Belonging around the table.

Heading west as the sun rises.

We were 21 adults gathered around the dining room table(s) this year for Christmas. At one moment, while standing on the kitchen side of the island, I looked out at the guests gathered in our home and my heart whispered with a contented sigh, “Yes. This is Christmas”.

Gathered around the table, we shared a meal, toasts, tales of Christmases past, of Christmases hoped for, remembered, cherished. We laughed at stories, new and old. It didn’t matter if we’d heard them before for it wasn’t the story that made our hearts warm with remembering, it was the storyteller.

And as in Christmases past, we went around the table and each person answered the question that was written in their name cards. “What is your favourite Christmas memory?”  “What are you most grateful for in 2019?”  “If you could create a charitable organization, what would it be?”  “What historical figure would you want to include at the table?” …

We gathered around the table on Christmas Day to share a feast and to feast on that special brew of friendship, family, community and the ties that bind us.

And throughout the festivities, our home was full of voices laughing, chatting, calling out each other in the familiar way that only those who have known one another a long, long time can do, and get away with. Because, no matter the calling out, it is the threads of familiarity and love that weave our hearts together in a magical tapestry of lives enjoined across time and space, moving always closer to the heart of what matters most – belonging, community,  family, love.

Three Valley Gap – looking east.

And now, we are in Vancouver to share another Christmas with our eldest daughter, son-in-love and grandson. It is a special celebration.

Rogers Pass

As we followed the highway west, driving through plains and rolling hills into foothills and the Rockies, through towns and mountainsides festooned with snow-covered trees, I said a prayer of gratitude for my life today and those who fill it with such joy and beauty and love.

After a few days here, we will spend New Year’s Eve on Gabriola Island with my middle sister and her husband and then, we’ll take the long and winding road across Vancouver Island to my favourite place on earth, Tofino where my beloved and I will spend a few quiet days listening to the waves crash against the shore, wander the beaches and sit by the fire.

Yes. This is Christmas.

This is the table where we belong. Where family and friends gather.  This is a joyful celebration of life, of friendship, family, love and new birth to come.

Yes. This is my blessed life.

I am so grateful.



Freakingly Fabulous Friday!


The Freakingly Fabulous Diana!

My eldest daughter arrives home for a visit today. Isn’t that freakin’ fabulous?

My sister flew in last night. yup. F.F.

Tomorrow night, we will celebrate my mother’s 92nd birthday — all of us together.  My sisters, daughters, C.C., his daughter and her boyfriend – How freakingly fabulous is that?

The only ones missing will be C.C.’s son who is at The Peak Performance Band Camp, (more freakin’ fabulous stuff!) and of course, my nieces who live far away.

Yesterday, I met up with the amazing Diana of Talk to Diana for a glass of wine, a nibbly and lots of wonderful conversation. More freakin’ fabulosity!

I met Diana when I was working at a homeless shelter here in the city and she was the Director of Fund Development for a different shelter. We hit it off right away. From her compassionate approach to finding common ground, to her sharp intuitive ability to divine what’s really at stake, Diana makes a difference in my life, and the world.

One of the things I admire most about Diana is her capacity to see the big picture, and still keep the ‘little guy’ in the frame. Whether its the small not for profit agency struggling to execute on their mission or the charitable juggernaut striking new ground in the philanthropic sweepstakes, Diana can see how all the pieces fit together and understands the value of each perspective and their interrelatedness. Diana cares about making the world a better place, and lives by example. Big time.

A couple of hours with Diana and I find myself refreshed and reinvigorated. I want to take on the world and create better with every breath I take. It is one of her many gifts. To inspire people to embrace the truth of their capacity to make a difference.

As I walked back downtown to where my car was parked, I felt lighter, sunnier, calmer. Don’t you love spending time with someone who inspires you and lifts you up? Yup. Freakin’ Fabulous!

This morning, I will drop my sister off to visit our mother while I go off to pick up Alexis at the airport. From there, Alexis and I will drive to the hospice where her father’s mother is being cared for. Five weeks ago, she was told she had a week to live. While the prognosis has not changed, she has hung on long enough for Alexis to get here to say a final goodbye. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous. My daughters’ other grandmother turned 94 at the beginning of the month, a few days after the doctors gave her the final diagnosis. It has been a stressful and sad time for both my daughters to see the lives of their grandmothers inevitably towards their endings.

And yet, what a gift.

They have been blessed with having these two remarkable women in their lives for 26 and 28 years. They have lived the value of family ties unbroken through their childhood into teens and now into young women striking off to carve their own paths through life.

Both their grandmothers have played active roles in their formative years. From summer holidays spent wandering the beaches of Vancouver Island to playing dress-up and listening to stories of exotic places, through time spent with their grandmothers and their aunts, my daughters have had the gift of time with generations of women who love and care for them beyond my greatest imaginings.

I only met my mother’s mother once when she came from India to visit us for three months when we were living in France and I was in my early teens. My father had a distant and strained relationship with his mother and we never met her, even though, for awhile, we lived in England where she lived too.

I wanted different for my daughters. I wanted them to know their roots ran deep, their family ties were indestructible. Because of these two women, they have lived with the value of family ties binding them through the generations. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous!

This evening, while my daughters go off to a friend’s birthday party, my eldest sister, Jackie, is coming over to join Anne and me in the studio to help in the making of paper butterflies for mom’s party tomorrow night.

I have a vision. I’m going to drape a sheer blue cloth above the table and hanging starlights above it. We’ll suspend the butterflies we’ll be making tonight on the other side of the cloth and with flowers and photos, create a mystical, magical scene for mom to enjoy.

I’m looking for freakin’ fabulous! And I know, it won’t be the decor that makes it so. It will be family (though making it beautiful is so freakin’ fun it sure makes a difference!)

How blessed I am.

And grateful.

May you have a freakingly fabulous weekend. May it be filled with wonder and awe, and may you find your heart skipping wildly in love with the world around you.