There are people reflecting all over the place - on Facebook, even in my mailbox that sits at the edge of my driveway. We get letters from friends and family, exuberantly shouting their accomplishments which include obtaining their third doctor's degree, incredible jobs with six-figure salaries and announcing their ump-teenth grandchild. They are proud, and rightly, they should be. However, since none of those broadcasts make my list, nevertheless, I am still proud of where I find myself on the last day of 2015.
It's not "Look at me" but "Look at how far I've come." I am not where I once was nor will I ever be at this point again. I am moving forward, adding to my list of triumphs, which to others may seem insignificant, but to me, monumental. I am making myself accountable for four of my best efforts this year. These feats make me proud. 1. I wrote a book and a publisher wanted it. I dare say I might not get to say this again, so I'm putting it right out front. I did it. I'm not sure how, but the words came, and so did the people; 2. I learned to shoot in manual mode, thus taking control of my photography which led me to my kick-ass 5DMarkiii (a.k.a. Kimsey); 3. I broke into a new travel market (my editorial complemented by Len's photography) with my first major international publication and million+ audience; and 4. I am realizing (albeit a continuing struggle) my place in this world - partner, employee, entrepreneur.
What makes you proud today?
a very worldly woman that more presents meant more love. Sure enough, each Christmas morning she would appear with two-33-gallon black bags overflowing with wrapped gifts. Let the competition begin! As a new mother, I dreaded Christmas morning. Nothing changed as the years passed by, but my children wised up to her equation: money + gifts = love. They knew that was her reasoning, but they didn't buy it - literally. Decades later, my children feel the same pains for the holiday season as I do, one of my biggest regrets.
As I grow older, I think of the holidays and sad thoughts still percolate in my mind. I still have that quirky association of things and worth and honesty, and each season, I work harder to obliterate it. I try to put presents in the past - just stuff, I say. I realize I can have anything I want at anytime, so Christmas must mean something more, and it must no longer be a time to remember with sadness. It must be a time of yearning. We are moving past boxes. No to you retailers; there is NO "must have" list. There isn't any gadgets that will transform you into what you dream or things that will bring you satisfaction. This I know for sure. I've had stuff; stuff just brings more stuff. It shouldn't be the season that draws you into the stores, but the season that opens your heart to what is most important.
The baby in the manger who promised that everything would be alright. The teenager who opens the door when my hands just can't quite reach. The homeless woman sitting across the dinner table from me who has the most positive attitude that it makes me ashamed of myself. The everyday people who smile and make the effort to be kind. My children who answer the phone when I call or text. My husband who comes home each night with a full heart and warm hug.
Len has brought sparkle back into my holiday season, with his love of music and, when added with my love of twinkle lights, the stage - our home - is set. Logan comes home on Christmas day, eating to his heart's content, and for one day, he forgets that he must go back to work soon. Ty comes down the stairs as usual and reminds me of the healing power laughter brings. I firmly believe God has a reason for keeping him under our roof, and I believe it has to do more with me than with him. I miss Mari as only a mother can. She doesn't understand that computer screens just don't make up for touch, but one day, Caitlin will make sure she understands that distance is a most horrible evil. A cross-country move brought Mike back home this holiday season, and for that, I am so grateful. There's a light in Len's eye that only appears when a son returns. We continue to hope that Brian and his family will open their hearts to us.
For better or worse, this is where the Garrison family stands. Shaken. Tilted. Wobbly. Moving forward. Optimistic. I hold my present as tightly as I hold my past, those early holidays when I felt as poor as a church mouse when in reality, I was the richest of all. Come to find out, I had everything then that I wish I had today. I pray for our future Christmases, that one day, we'll need a table the size of the family Rockefeller. I can hope. The baby gives me hope.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.