My parents found the perfect way to make me behave on each step of the life I’m notching…they told me whatever I do good or bad to remember…my ancestors are watching.


They said I am the product of many ancestors who were on this Earth before me…and how each ancestor is but one leaf upon our family tree.


Wherever I go I carry the branches of my family tree…it’s how those who came before are watching over me.


It’s been a rather easy way to keep my life in sync…because before I do or say anything, I ask myself….what would my ancestor think?


I have felt my ancestors all my life…since I was a little boy…I have shared with them my sadness…I have shared with them my joy. 


No matter where’ I’ve gone in life…no matter how old I’ve grown…I’ve always had this wonderful feeling…that I have never been alone.


Whatever actions I’m about to take…my reasoning is always the same…

I want to honor those who came before me…I don’t want to cause them shame


And I look forward to the day I get to meet my ancestors…and they get to meet me…when I find my branch and take my place upon our family tree.


Where I can smile down on my great great grandchildren and the lives they will be notching…knowing from my place upon our family tree…along with my ancestors…I’ll be watching.



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One of my favorite parts of Christmas is not the joy and merriment we make…it’s not the presents…or the food…it’s the family photo that we take.


Our yearly Christmas photo, a gift that can’t be bought…shows the changes within our family another year has brought.


Change is subtle…occurring gradually throughout our days and nights…our Christmas photo, capturing a moment in time, brings our changes into the light.


Some changes are easy to see…they don’t involve a lot of thinking…like how our children and now grandchildren have grown taller…while Deborah and I are shrinking.


It is easy to see the changes we’ve all made physically…but each year our Christmas photo makes me think of the changes I cannot see.


What were our highs and lows this year…who had joys…who had heartaches along the way…who finished school, who changed jobs, who came home…who moved away.


But my favorite part as I view those who in this years photo are cast…is the moment I take this years photo and compare it with Christmas photos of the past…


Looking back…I can see all the changes in our lives that have taken place…but I still see the same smiles…the same love on every face.


I think that’s why I love our Christmas family photos so much…why they give ma such a thrill…because I can see the things about us that have changed…and the one thing that never will.

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When I was young there were many joys of Christmas and one of the biggest joys for me was opening up my presents I found underneath our Christmas tree.


I’d hold the present in my hand with a smile a mile wide, then rip the wrapping paper off to see what was inside.


When I grew a little older my focus shifted off of me and I found my joy in the presents for my family underneath our Christmas tree.


I’d see them hold their presents in their hands with smiles a mile wide then watch them rip the wrapping paper off to see what was inside.


When I grew a little older still…my focus underwent another shift for when it came to Christmas every year I wished for but one gift.


It wasn’t the presents I’d give my family or the presents they’d give to me…it was the presence of my family around our Christmas tree.


Children grow, they move away…that is what families do and it gets harder and harder every year for my one wish to come true.


But when it does you can see me all night with a smile a mile wide…having opened up my present to find my family inside.



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Have you ever read a book to your child, back when they were young and more carefree?

They pick out a book, brings it to you, then climb up on your knee.


With your arms outstretched holding the book you and your child feel safe and warm…and you realize at that moment a perfect circle has been formed.


Your arms forming a circle with your child in the center.

A circle so intimate that for a short time…no one else can enter.


I hope we’ve all been blessed to be the center of a circle just like this…which usually ends with a sigh or a smile...perhaps a little kiss.


Soon that child gets too big for our knee as they grow into a woman or a man…and so we find ourselves searching for perfect circles where and when we can.


There are moments around the dinner table when you smile because you’re aware…as you scan from face to face to face…that the perfect circle is right there.


There are moments around a campfire where laughter is the norm…while kneeling down toasting a marshmallow you feel the warmth of that circle form.


You find these circles in instants…the fun is never knowing where they might be…when they’ll be captured by your heart and imprinted in your memory.


We hope our children and grandchildren remember when they sat upon our knee

We hope the circles we form extend out…like ripples on the sea


For, that is the beauty of the circles we create amidst our family and friends…once formed, that circle is unbreakable...

because a circle never ends.



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At first glance when you visit our house you might not notice it

but, by the time that you depart

you’ll realize you were in a museum filled with priceless works of art.


The works of art, though on full display, at first aren’t easy to discern

but as we take you on a tour…the more and more you learn.


There’s a walking stick in the corner an an old chair we’ve always had

you might not recognize their value but the artist was Deborah’s dad.


There’s a cookie jar sitting on a bookcase…

”That doesn’t look priceless.” You might say.

Until you see it’s filled with notes of remembrances

our children wrote to Deborah one Mother’s day.


There’s a framed black and white drawing of a young man

a little pensive…perhaps a little sad 

that was drawn by my own father long before he was my dad.


We’ll show you artwork from our children that still gives our hearts a lift

and our name made out of license plates given to us as a gift.


There’s an old closet door where you’ll see our children’s and grandchildren’s measures…

There’s an old chest in the back bedroom overflowing with more treasures.


Our house is filled with so much priceless art that can be found on every shelf

but the best way to experience it would be to see it for yourself.


Because what makes our artwork priceless…what gives our art pizzazz 

Is not how much it cost…but the story each piece has.


This means when you visit our house…for whatever reason you are there

we will gladly show you all our art…and all their stories gladly share.


Which is why, when you visit our house, by the time you all depart

you’ll know you were in a museum filled with priceless works of art.



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As we visited with our daughter and grandchildren the other night

we were reminded of the moment each was born. 

Oh, how we celebrated that day.

at that moment we didn’t care if they would grow up 

to be bi 

or straight 

or gay.


We only cared they were alive…

had all their body parts...

that they were breathing on their own…

and came with healthy hearts.


And we’ve been blessed that three healthy children 

and four healthy grandchildren have come our way.

And as they’ve grown we still don’t care...

if they are bi

or straight

or gay.


We only care that they are close to us…

that in their lives...we play a part

that they all have gentle souls…

and kindness in their hearts


The reason is quite simple…

and to this we both avow

If we didn’t care when they were born...

Why...would we care now?


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I like to think of family by visualizing a boat

with one family all together as on the sea they float.


Every family’s boat is different in size and shape and form

It’s a place where we learn of love and happiness 

and find safety from the storms.


As babies….under motor or with its sails unfurled

this boat is all we know…this boat is our whole world.


As we grow a little older we can see while we’re afloat

there are many other ships upon the water…

that we are not the only boat.


We make friends with other boaters…

friendships our parents happily promote.

knowing everyone at the end of the day

returns to the safety of their own boat.


But as we grow still older…as we move from year to year

we take on more boating responsibilities…

and sometimes we even get to steer.


Until the day we’re given our own boat

and with a mix of sadness, hope and glee

We thank our parents as we set sail

alone…upon the sea.


Then sometime while we’re sailing

we never know where or when

we have our own family on our ship

and the cycle begins again…


And we are happy sailing this way

because we know where our parents boat is moored…

and we know they are always willing

to welcome us aboard.



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There is a truth we don’t think about when we’re young

It’s just too easy to ignore…

how youth will win the early battles in life…

but age will, eventually, win the war. 


It’s inherent in our destiny…because every night we turn a page

and our youth, felt only moments ago, cedes another day to age.


It seems life is a constant struggle between age and youth…until…

age proves itself triumphant…as age forever will.


But there are moments as we grow older…as yet another page we turn…

when age consents to step aside and allow youth to return…


Like every time a Grandma holds her Grandson…

even for a little while

for as she sees him fall asleep in her arms…

it is her youth that smiles.


Her youth that causes her to reminisce …

her youth that brings her happiness and joy…

a youth transferred to the Grandma…

from the heart of a little boy.


And in this quiet moment shared together

all grandmas recognizes this truth…

and are happy age has stepped aside

and ceded this moment back to youth.

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Our children left the nest long ago…

It’s amazing how fast the years have gone by

but I don’t feel our nest has ever been empty…

and here’s my simple reason why:


I’ve always risen early…before the alarm starts beeping

before the sun pokes through the window…

while my family was still sleeping.


It’s a wonderful time…the morning…

because as the day rubs the night from its eyes…it seems

sitting alone…in the solitude…I could hear my family’s dreams.


Today I still wake early 

(Old habits are hard to break)

And though I no longer hear them dreaming…

as a walk through the house I make


I find the house is anything but quiet…

for on mornings such as these

the dreams that I once listened to…

have been replaced with memories.


It’s a wonderful thing…the morning

because as the day rubs the night from its eyes

You never know what memory

will rise up and come floating by…


And so I know this nest will never be empty…

no matter what time or what year…

because a nest can never be empty 

as long as their memories still live here.



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