Holiday Spirit (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 30)

The holiday season can be full of busyness — going through the list and checking it twice, without enjoying the moments along the way. A leisurely evening run with friends, with a detour on some festive paths, was a wonderful reminder of the goodwill generated by the season. Volunteers handing out hot cocoa and cookies … fire pits roaring with marshmallows for toasting … favorite holiday tunes playing as laser lights danced.

Adding to the magic of the evening was the best light of all — the luminous orb overhead, shining on the water next to the reflection of Duluth’s iconic lift bridge.

May the spirit of the season move you to pay it forward — be kind and compassionate to friends and strangers alike.

Be grateful for the reminders of what this season is supposed to be about.

~ Kat


Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation 

Despite it being long past when I should have been in bed on a “school night”, I grabbed some quiet reflection time after decorating the tree earlier in the evening. Glass of prosecco in hand, Christmas music streaming on my phone, and the lights of the tree blinking peacefully in the dark of the midnight hour.

People everywhere wait in anticipation …. for Christmas less than a week away, for the start of Hanukkah which coincides with Christmas Day, for time with family and friends ….

And others wait in anticipation for matters less joyful … the end of war, the opportunity to flee a besieged city ….

May all men, women, and children around the world see a holiday season of peace that carries into the new year.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Anticipation” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Anticipation.


The Importance of Holiday Magic

This year, even more than ever, we are in need of finding the magic of the holidays … that magic that helps bridge divides, smooths strained relations, allows people to set aside differences to share in the beauty of the season.

Even without snow on the ground, and the second warmest November on record, Duluth’s Bentleyville is just the place to go to kindle the often-nostalgic feelings that accompany the December holiday season.

Whether you are 2, or 20, or 20 times 4, joy fills the air as you walk through the arches of light, as Christmas classics play over the speakers.  Donations and sponsorships support the free cookies, popcorn, hot cocoa, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows! People from all walks of life come together to watch the lights dance on the 128 foot tall Christmas tree, wait patiently to talk to Santa or Mrs. Claus, or pause for one of the many photo ops.

The year-round evening illumination of Duluth’s lift bridge glows across the bay, taking a back seat to this seasonal festival of lights.

The meandering lit paths give many opportunities to reflect and be grateful — whether wandering with friends, with family, or taking time for solitary reflection. Give thanks for good health, for a roof over our heads, for love, for community. Bentleyville gives a nod to our troops, as well, with Duluth’s own 148th Fighter Wing garnering a special spot in the display.

If only for an evening, let the “Tour of Lights” push the stress and anxiety of the world’s issues to the side … Embrace the magic of the season.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “It’s Not This Time of Year Without…” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: It’s Not This Time of Year Without ….

Merry Christmas, WordPress Friends!

May the Christmas spirit fill your day with infectious joy and peace!


Ciao! ~ Kat

Christmas Tree of Memories

It is Christmas Eve.  We have a beautiful live Christmas tree in our living room, a tall Fraser fir … with nothing more than star at the top and lights this year.  With cats in the house, we’ve always been careful to put the breakable ornaments near the top, out of reach of playful paws.

Cat Under the Tree    Cat by the Tree

This year, however, we have a new threat:  Winnie, a rambunctious puppy, our latest adoption from the local humane society.

Puppy and the Christmas tree

Don’t let that innocent face fool you …. This was the scene as I worked from home the other day:

Between Corbin, my 100-pound trusty running partner, and our newest family member, you are watching 160 pounds or so of dog playing keep away with each other.  Amazingly, the tree remains upright and the lights are twinkling as I post this, with Christmas Day just hours away.

The tree is still beautiful in its natural simplicity.  But I do miss the many ornaments we usually decorate with, and the memories they hold.  Over the years, we have been blessed with many four-legged family members, some already in their twilight years when they joined our family (remember Kruger? I wrote about him in several posts, including this one), while others enjoyed a full decade or more of life with us before we had to say good-bye (like our lovable duo Snowy and Duffy, who were remembered in this post).

A tradition we began years ago was hanging a photo ornament on the tree for each furry family member, and adding their ID tag to it after their death.  Each one brings back so many happy moments and stories, we find ourselves sharing as we hang each one — “Remember … when Snowy ate 3/4 of the box of Belgian chocolates while we were at church?” “Remember … how Mr. Mistoffolees would sit on the back of the couch and knead your head and purr?” “Remember … how Duffy would whine every time you stopped giving him a tummy scrub?”  “Remember … how Sadie loved leaping after the leaves  while we raked?”  “Remember … when the cats would nap in the crib?” “Remember … how Bruce knew the name of each of his toys?” “Remember…  the day we brought Corbin home from the humane society and he was so excited to get to the car he knocked your brother over to get in?”  Remember…. all the love … I can’t imagine our house without them.

I will leave you with a gallery of many of these memories (from last year’s tree), to carry us until next year when a certain puppy will have a photo ornament of her own.

  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you choose to celebrate! ~ Kat