I like to think of our family as a beautiful mixed bouquet….

flowers…sprouted from individual seeds…that grow a little every day.


Every flower is magnificent…unique in their own way… 

and when combined with all the other flowers…add to the beauty of the bouquet.


And we find we cherish moments when the bouquet is in full bloom…

when every member of the family…in the same place…the same room.


For it is when all the flowers are assembled…say for birthday’s or holidays…

that we get to experience the beauty of the complete…the entire bouquet.


But we also like to take time every now and then even if it’s only for an hour…

to sit down with individual family members and experience the beauty of their flower.


Which is where you would have found us yesterday…at a restaurant…having fun

while eating tuna melts and French fries…with only one grandson.


We sat together talking, eating…laughing…for about an hour…

one Nana and one PopPop enjoying the beauty of one flower.


We hugged our grandson and smiled as we watched him drive away…

having been reminded how the beauty of one flower

adds to the overall beauty of our bouquet. 

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Today I’m thankful for our family tree

for contained within it leaves and branches 

are the people in our life…who currently adore us…

and contained within its roots

are all our ancestors who came before us. 

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 I was putting away some Fiesta Ware the other day when, noticing all the colors in front of me

I had to stop and smile at how they reminded me of our family tree.


I love our family tree…love every leaf…love its branches one and all…

love how it is painted all year long…in colors of the Fall.


I’m proud of the colors of our family tree…and as each new branch extends

how easily those colors synthesize…how beautifully they blend.


There is a kind of magic in how our colors come together to form this beautiful symmetry.

knowing underneath those colors lies the heart…the true magic of our family tree.


We share each others highs and lows…and we’ll go to extremes

to support each other’s hopes…to encourage each other’s dreams.


We find the more we do this…that our tree grows strong and tall…

and we find the colors of our tree…though beautiful, don’t matter to us at all. 


I could probably end this poem here…but I think it only fair

to go back to where it started…with our Fiesta Ware.


I love the diversity of each plate…the different colors one and all…

love how our collection is permanently painted in colors of the Fall.


How food that’s made with love…always will taste great..

no matter which color bowl we choose…

no matter which color the plate.


That’s why Fiesta Ware reminds me of our family tree…

because whether its the Fiesta Ware stacked high on a kitchen shelf

or our family tree standing tall…

when love is holding them together…

their colors do not matter to us at all.

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As we prepare to leave the mountains…I admit…I have no shame

for I’ve also been preparing…to play the alphabet game.


It’s a game we’ve played since our children were little…

on our trips from the mountains to the sea…

One person names something we’ve done that starts with the letter A…

and we keep going until we reach the letter Z.


It’s a wonderful family game…as anyone whose ever played it knows

and to get an edge for when we leave tomorrow…Alphabet game…here goes.


Asheville, Arrow, Birds, Bonnie, Bryan, Cherokee, Deer, Elk, a Freeze

(You see by getting this head start…I’m going to win this game with ease).


Games played in the cabin on a picnic or on the porch in the afternoon. 

Hikes, Indigenous, Jelly from Momma’s Boy, Killers of the Flower Moon.


Leaves of many colors, the Moon, the Mountains, 

Nantahala, the Oconaluftee River all aglow

Poplar trees, a Quart of cider, Raccoons, 

a Steam engine, playing in the Snow..


Turkeys in the yard, Umbrella’s in the rain, Vegan fest

Waterrock Knob with sunsets that astound

X…a letter we ignore….Yellow colors all all around.


Z is another letter that is difficult but I have this one in the bag…

in the mountains we traveled on many roads with curves that zig and zag.


There you have it I am ready for out 2 day trip back home…

I only hope that Deborah…doesn’t take the time to read this poem.


(Of course there are no winners or losers…that is just a myth…

The real treasure of this game….is having someone to play it with.)

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May we be blessed to acknowledge all the wonders in our life

that have, for us, thus far accrued…

and to begin each day with a word of thanks… 

and thoughts of gratitude.


Today I’m thankful for family…

because without them I am sure

we would not be who we are…

if they were not who they were

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Our family came together again yesterday, (which is the reason for this poem)

and, as is our tradition, we took a family portrait before everyone headed home.


Why do we take so many family portraits….it’s quite simple to explain…

because no matter how many family portraits we take…no two portraits are the same.


Every time our family walks out and then back in through our front door

we’ve all changed a little bit…from the portrait we took before.


Sometimes those changes are obvious…the photo captures a singular time and space

new clothes, new glasses, new hairstyles…is that another wrinkle on my face?


Often, however, the changes are more subtle and only our heart is reawakened…

to the metamorphosis each family member has experienced 

since the last portrait was taken.


Which is why I pause as I look at each new family portrait…pausing is a must…

It gives my eyes a chance to see the smiles…the changes…

and my heart time to adjust. 


I imagine the reason we take so many family portraits 

so many times throughout the year

is to remind everyone that whatever changes we go through…

your family’s still here.


Which is why when our family comes together…

even for a little while….

there will be a moment…

sometime in the evening….

when they’ll be asked to SMILE!

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 May we be blessed to acknowledge all the wonders in our life

that have, for us, thus far accrued…

and to begin each day with a word of thanks…

and thoughts of gratitude.


Today I’m thankful for the seeds of family love

we sow along the way…


For the flowers of love that will bloom from our children tomorrow

are planted by us today

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From the moment she could toddle in the grass…before she said one word…

she would stand in her front yard and point up at the birds.


Watching their daughter smile when she saw the birds resting or in flight…

her parents filled her room with bird books they read to her each night.


They weren’t even upset…nor did they think it a bit absurd…

when, instead of mama or dada…the first word she said…was bird.


One night, after they finished reading and began to tuck her into bed…

with a smile on her face their daughter looked at them…and said:


“Mom, Dad! Do you know what I want to be when I finally grow?”

They sat down on the bed next to her saying, “Tell us…we’d like to know.”


She sat up all excited…then announced emphatically,

“I’m pretty sure…when I grow up…a bird is what I want to be!”


“I want to be like all the other birds I see in the trees and in the sky.

I want to be the kind of bird who spreads her wings…and flies!”


Smiling at each other, “That’s a wonderful dream.” Her parents said

then they kissed her on the forehead and tucked her into bed.


A parent’s responsibilities are many…it’s a blessing…and a chore…

when to bring their children down to Earth…when to let their imaginations soar.


Knowing how much she loved birds since the moment her little life began

They talked it over that night…and came up with a plan. 


The next morning they handed her a helmet…

when she stepped out of her bed.

“Get dressed as quickly as you can.” They said. 

“And when you’re dressed put this helmet on your head.”


As they turned to leave the room…their daughter asked them why…

“Because,” they smiled, “we have a lot of work to do…

if we’re going to teach you how to fly.

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It’s funny how a simple question…a group of words…when combined

can set off a flurry of activity within the recesses of your mind.


I was taste testing another batch of Deborah’s famous chocolate chip cookies

(Yes, my epicurean cookie skills are vast)

after giving her the thumbs up…she smiled, looked at me, and asked:


“I wonder how many of these cookies I’ve made for everyone over all these years?”

Which set my mind to wondering past cookies to all the moments we’ve shared..

all the laughter…all the tears.


How many moments did we have when everything in life seemed just right?

How many times have we hugged our children and grandchildren?

How many times have we kissed goodnight?


How many times have he held hands or looked into each other’s eyes?

How many times have we watched the sun set?  

How many times have we seen her rise?


In all our travels…in all our walks…I had to wonder…how many miles?

How many loud and happy moments have we shared?

How many silent moments?  How many smiles? 


How many times have we said, ‘I love you’?…I can’t even guess at the amounts. 

Suffice it to say…in a lifetime together…we long ago lost count.


I imagine what’s important in life…is that these moments…we create them!

We don’t need to keep track of every moment…there’s no need to calculate them.


There’s no need to keep a tally…

no need to discover the exact amount.

What’s important is knowing tomorrow…

if we’re blessed…

we’ll be adding to the count.

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