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A wonderful Christmas Morning on the Appalachian Trail

A wonderful Christmas Morning on the Appalachian Trail

Over the years I’ve had many different kinds of Christmas mornings and have enjoyed all of them as I passed through various stages of life. My early years as a little girl were spent opening gifts followed by other family events.  As a young adult there were several years when Christmas morning consisted of just me and my husband opening our gifts. As our family grew there were many years of children excitedly opening  gifts followed by a big Christmas breakfast.  Those Christmas Days were exciting and will always be wonderful memories that I will treasure.

This morning, however, was a bit more peaceful than many of the Christmas mornings I’ve experienced in my 50 years.   I am now in the “Empty Nest” phase and there are certain advantages that come with that.  The fact that my children spent Christmas morning with their other ‘families’ gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things—-go for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.  While I am extremely thankful for the time I was able to be with my children and granddaughter later in the day, I did enjoy being able to spend the morning walking through the woods.

This morning’s  hike was especially enjoyable because here in South-Central PA, we were blessed with a Christmas Eve snowfall which gave us a glorious ‘White Christmas’ morning.  With a fresh layer of snow carpeting the trail, hiking on the A.T. was truly an amazing experience.  Being out in the woods as the sun rose over the top of the mountain was a very special treat on this holiday morning.  The silence and the beauty were the best gift I could have been given.  My husband and my dog seemed to have a pretty good time also.

I am thankful for many things this Christmas and I hope that you were also able to enjoy a special Christmas morning regardless of what stage of life you are in right now.

Walking through a snowy meadow.

Walking through a snowy meadow.

The AT with a fresh layer of snow.

The AT with a fresh layer of snow.

The 2 'men' who were my hiking companions.

The 2 ‘men’ who were my hiking companions.
(Don & Denver)

A white "blaze" that marks the Appalachian Trail

A white “blaze” that marks the Appalachian Trail

A very happy 'me' on Christmas morning.

A very happy ‘me’ on Christmas morning.

 

 

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Friends

Friends

As the holidays approach I’ve been thinking about various ‘gifts’ I have been given.  I am particularly grateful for my friends—I consider them a special gift.  As I think about them, I realize there are various kinds of friends and they are all of great value to me, but in different ways.

Some of my friends are more casual–someone that I might go out to lunch with or chat a bit over a cup of coffee.  They know mostly the surface things about me and the time I spend with them is fun — I look forward to being with them.  We share things about our lives, but they may only see the outer layers of who I really am.

I have a few friends with whom I inexplicably maintain a connection even if months or years pass between the times we talk.  When we do get together it’s as if no time has passed–we are able to pick up right where we left off the last time we spoke.  Those kinds of friends know the good and the bad about me and go down several layers closer to the core of who I am.

There is also what I like to call an ‘emergency friend’.  This would be someone I can call night or day in a time of crisis.  A simple phone call brings this person to my door ready to listen and help. This particular kind of friend provides comfort, guidance and prayer at times when I need it the most, even if we are not in touch on a regular basis.

Another kind of friend is my modern day ‘pen-pal’, a.k.a ‘email-buddies’.  I’ve never met some of these women face-to-face, but, have developed meaningful friendships with them through the computer.  I’ve often had my morning brightened by finding a message from one of these amazing women in my inbox.  We have shared joys and sorrows through our keyboards and they have been there for me and ‘listened’ when I needed to talk things through.

The most cherished kinds of friend are the ones who know the good, the bad and the ugly about me…..but they love me anyway.  They are willing to listen to my problems and they provide understanding and love.  They hurt when I hurt and feel joy when I feel joy.  I feel safe enough to share my heart with them and they in turn are brave enough to share theirs with me.  I am fortunate enough to have several like that and I don’t know where I would be without them.  They are almost all women who have experienced some kind of deep hurt or struggle which has somehow deepened their ability to love others and empathize with them.  These are ‘real’ women and are truly a gift.

There are also friends who are no longer a part of my life for one reason or another.  Some of them have affected my life in small ways and others have had a much greater impact.  I have a deep gratitude for the way I have been stretched and deepened by some of these very special women.  I can only hope that as they look back on our friendship that they are able to be thankful as well.

I am fortunate to enjoy a wonderfully diverse group of friends. It is refreshing to be exposed to so many different points of view.  I love being able to introduce my friends to each other and see them begin to develop a friendship. It is heart-warming to see them enjoying each other and appreciating those differences.

My life is much richer, deeper and fuller because of these special women and I am thankful for all of them.  Every single one of them is a very special ‘gift’ and I hope that I am the kind of friend that can be a ‘gift’ to them as well.

Friendship-Quote-e1327408483515

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