Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

5/7/18, May Day

Posted on May 7, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I had a sweet day last week, which was a double header for me. May Day. When I was a little girl in French schools, we used to wear a little wreath of flowers around our heads, and dance around a Maypole. It sounds pretty silly, but I thought it was fun. May Day is Labor Day in France, so it’s a National Holiday. And lily of the valley, the flower, are the symbol of May Day, and happen to be my favorite flower. I love their delicate scent. In France, everyone exchanges sprigs of lily of the valley on May Day, as a symbol of friendship and good luck. There are street vendors everywhere selling lily of the valley, for people to give to friends, coworkers, children, grandmothers. It’s such a pretty holiday, and a lovely thought.
 

May Day also happens to be my late son Nick’s birthday. I loved that he was born on May Day. So it’s a bit of a double edged sword for me now, with happy and bittersweet memories that flood into my mind. Memories of him as a little boy, and when he was born, and as he grew up. He was an amazing person, and passed away at nineteen. So I love the day, but I also miss him enormously on that holiday. I usually invite friends to dinner that night, so as not to be alone, and I did the same this year. Twelve friends joined me for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Before that, I spent a quiet day, reading, and thinking of Nick.
 

So Happy May Day to you, and I hope that Spring is now officially here. And soon it will be full-on summer!!! Get ready for it!!

 

 

love, Danielle

2/12/18, Happy V Day

Posted on February 12, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope your weeks have been going well. I’ve been busy writing, which usually keeps me happy and out of trouble.

And I guess we need to mention the holiday looming this week: Valentine’s Day. It’s a day of hope and expectations, excitement, joy, and sometimes disappointment if your Valentine hopes don’t quite measure up. I hope your Valentine’s Day will exceed all expectations and turn out even better than you dreamed!!!

My own Valentine’s Day experiences have been varied, from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some real highs—two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day, one for a marriage that lasted nearly twenty years, and remained a great love (the father of eight of my nine children), and the other was a bumpy road but someone I loved a lot nonetheless, and we also stayed very close. I’ve had some terrific dates on Valentine’s Day, and some less than terrific dates, and some years alone. It’s one of those days, like New Year’s Eve where people pin their hopes on everything they wish, and it’s sometimes/often hard for reality to measure up. My children have been my best Valentines over the years, and still are!!! We used to set a terrific table with lots of candy hearts, and funny little party favors, walking hearts, Peeps of course (my favorite), lots of chocolate, T shirts with hearts on them, fun jewelry that lights up, and a BIG pink heart shaped cake at the end of it. We do a small version of that now for my daughter who still lives at home, but she usually goes out and has more exciting plans than a heart shaped cake at home!! But it was a lot of fun when all my children were little and still at home.

I hope you’re planning to do something fun on Valentine’s Day, and I hope that someone gives you flowers and chocolates—-even if they don’t propose. If not on Valentine’s Day, maybe they will soon!!! My youngest son’s birthday is four days before Valentine’s Day, so he was a GREAT Valentine’s Day gift, the best ever!!! We celebrated his birthday last week with a family dinner, which included some of his friends.

I hope that your Valentine’s Day plans turn out just the way you hope, and you have a fun, romantic day and evening, full of love, and maybe even the excitement of a new romance, or the warm comfort of an old romance. The possibilities are endless—-and anything is possible. So Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope it will be a great one!!!

 

much love to you,  Danielle

1/8/18, Golden Years

Posted on January 8, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope that 2018 is off to a great start for you, and that the year has begun smoothly. Getting through the holidays is something of a mad dash, and then there seems to be a lull at the beginning of the year, when things are quiet for a while, and nothing much happens.

I’ve never liked new year’s resolutions, and making promises that are hard to live up to, I may not keep, and probably won’t. And I almost always ignore the flood of jokes, wisdoms, and ‘clever’ things that people send me from the Internet, although some of them are very funny. But a friend in Europe recently sent me a list of suggestions of ‘rules to live by’ for one’s golden years, from the Internet, that I actually liked a lot. 20 suggestions that caught my attention, and actually sounded like wise advice, at every age, so I’m passing them on to you. I don’t know the source, but I really thought the list worthwhile. I’m not sure when the ‘golden years’ begin, or how golden they really are. It’s an art to age gracefully, to be a good sport as one watches one’s kids grow up and fly off to their own lives. But suddenly one day, the kids are grown, and you wonder where the time went, and how life has gone so quickly. Some people get crabby about it, or sad, or bitter, while others face it admirably with energy and grace. I always admire older people who are busy, active, and have a positive outlook on life. Good health is a vital part of it, but a good attitude about whatever stage of life one is at seems essential. So for what it’s worth, I’m passing the list on to you. I really liked it.

RULES FOR OUR GOLDEN YEARS. Things to think about.

1. Use the money you have saved. Use it and take advantage of it and enjoy it.
Don’t save it for those who have no idea of the sacrifices you made to earn it. Take advantage of and enjoy the present.

2. Stop worrying, about your children and grandchildren. You’ve taken care of them for many years. You gave them an education. They are responsible now for themselves.

3. Maintain a healthy life, with moderate exercise. Eat well, walk, respect your sleep, since its harder now to stay in perfect health. Stay informed about your health, without excess.

4. Always buy the best and most beautiful elements for yourself. The main objective is to enjoy your life.

5. Don’t insist on the little things. You’ve overcome many things in your life, today is important, it’s the present. Don’t let the future frighten you.

6. Independent of age, keep love alive. Love of everything, of your family, of your environment, of your country.

7. Be proud, as much about your inside as your outside. Don’t stop going out. Take care of your body, you’ll feel better and stronger.

8. Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style.

9. Read the papers. Watch the news. Listen, read, make sure your message machine or voice mail is working, and try to use some form of social media. You’ll be surprised by new encounters and new people you meet as a result.

10. Respect younger generations and their opinions. Give advice and not criticism, and try to remind them of the wisdom of the past which applies to the present.

11. Never use the words “In my day”. Your Day is NOW!! You were younger once, but you still exist now. Have fun and enjoy life!

12. Embrace your “golden years”. Spend your time with positive, joyous people, they’ll rub off on you and your days will seem much more agreeable.

13. Resist the temptation to live with your children or grandchildren. They need to live their lives, and you need to live yours.

14. Don’t give up your leisure activities and hobbies. If you don’t have any, organize/plan some hobbies. Find something that you love and spend some good time, have fun.

15. Even if it doesn’t always thrill you, accept invitations. Baptisms, parties, birthdays, marriages, conferences. Do It!! The important thing is to leave the house from time to time.

16. Talk less and listen more. Don’t tell long stories unless you are asked to. Use a courteous tone, and try to stay positive.

17. If you’ve been offended by others, forgive them. Someone said “Holding a grudge against someone is like taking poison.”

18. If you have a strong belief/conviction, keep it. Don’t waste your time trying to convince others. Be faithful to your beliefs and choices.

19. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Laugh at everything. Convince yourself that you are among the luckiest. You succeeded at having a life, a long life.

20. Don’t pay any attention to what others say. Be proud to be yourself, proud of what you have accomplished. There is still a lot of happiness to take from life, so grab it!!

I really liked the reminder to keep up with the news. It’s so overwhelming at times, that it’s tempting to ignore what’s happening in the world. I liked too being reminded to accept invitations. It’s easy, at every age, to turn down invitations that sound dull or boring or just plain tiresome. But almost every time I accept an invitation that I was dubious about, I end up meeting someone really interesting, or have a much better time than I expected. It’s good to get out there, get dressed up and meet new people. It gives us a new perspective on life. And worrying less is always good advice for me, I worry too much about the people I love, and most of what I worry about never happens. Staying positive about life can be a challenge, but it’s so important, at every age. I know some young people who have a dreary, sour, defeated attitude about life, and some old ones who are incredibly positive and cheerful in their outlook on life. Who would you rather be around? The positive ones, or the angry, unhappy people who feel cheated by life, complain all the time, and bring you down?

I really liked the advice in these suggestions, and it reminded me that life can be ‘golden’ at any age. It all depends on how we view it. So I pass this on to you.

Have a great week!!

love, Danielle

1/1/18, Clean Slate

Posted on January 1, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope that Christmas has been joyful and peaceful for you, and happened the way you wanted it to, with some happy surprises!!

Mine has been a family Christmas, which is how I like it, with my children around me, and I’ve been very lucky that my 5 younger children and their significant others all came home for Christmas, and my three older ones were nearby too. It’s been a lovely Christmas.

It’s a nostalgic time, when inevitably you think of Christmases of years past, when they were all here, living at home, we hadn’t lost anyone, and life was easier than we realized then. It’s easy to spot the blessings as you look to the past, and sometimes not as easy to recognize them in everyday life, while we’re all occupied with the business of daily living. The past seems infinitely precious now, but so is the present. I’m very grateful to have had my children with me this Christmas. And we can all heave a sigh of relief, the presents are all given out, the rushing around is all done. We pulled off the holidays for another year, and the mad rush that impacts all or most of us between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And now inevitably we take stock of all that happened in our lives this year, as it draws to a close. I am very grateful for the many blessings of this year, which in retrospect outnumber the bumps—-and there are always bumps in all our lives. But the blessings were many and very sweet.

Now we have one last hurdle to get over, before we can close this year, and get on to a new year, with all its challenges and happy, exciting moments. New Year’s eve, it’s never been a night I love. I always thought that people tried too hard, and I’ve spent it giving parties for friends, dancing on some years, giving poker parties once I was alone (which was REALLY fun!!!), I have spent it romantically, and alone, and in recent years, I really don’t want to go out and party on New Year’s eve, or even give a party (I’ve done it with fancy food, and fast food—and the fast food and curly fries and burgers and corn dogs was actually more fun!!). For the last two years, I spent New Year’s Eve writing, and I really enjoy that. My kids have left after Christmas by then, and rather than looking back at the past wistfully in a quiet house, I’d rather be deeply engaged in a new book, all wrapped up in the characters and the lives I create for them. It’s fun for me, and is a great way to spend it. I don’t need to figure out who to spend it with, or what to wear, or risk my life on the highway in bad weather going somewhere. I stay cozily at home, writing. For now, anyway, it’s my favorite plan, and how I plan to spend it this year. And however you decide to spend it, with lots of friends, a few good ones, among strangers, or alone, I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve, doing what you like to do best.

And today is a new beginning, a brand new year, a clean slate. Whatever last year brought you, whether disappointing or fabulous, today we all get to clear the decks and start again, filled with hope and plans, wishes and dreams, promises to ourselves about what we will do better, or try not to do again. You could meet the person of your dreams, wind up in a new job or home by the end of the year, or get out of a bad situation, or improve an old one. You can do almost anything you want, and start fresh today. I love the idea of that. We are all brand new today.

So let’s look ahead together, at what this New Year may bring us. And my wish for you is that it will be The BEST year ever. The Best is yet to come. Happy New Year. Happy New Day…..I want it to be a great one for you, and for all of us….that’s my wish for you. Happy Clean Slate, as we leave the past behind us, and forge ahead.

Happy 2018 !!! and all my love, Danielle

12/25/17, “Twas the Night before Christmas…”

Posted on December 25, 2017

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were all hung by the chimney with care…..”

As I write this, it is 3 am on Christmas eve, and not a creature is stirring, not even my 3 Chihuahuas, who are snoring softly, waiting for me to come to bed. I just finished filling the Christmas stockings of my many children and their significant others, and writing them all letters from Santa, which I’ve done since they were children and still do—-congratulating them for what good people they are, and what they’ve done well all year. (Santa is very pleased with them!! And me too).

Our Christmas is all about traditions. We go to a church service at 5 pm, which is how our Christmas eve begins. It’s a children’s service, which they still enjoy, where we went every year in their childhood, and all the familiar Christmas carols are sung. Then we come home, hang out for a while, and dress for dinner. We have a formal dinner, with the table set nicely, and a good meal. Afterwards, we play a game, and after dinner the siblings exchange gifts. I give them mine the next morning (which was when they used to open the presents from Santa). We enjoy our rituals and familiar customs, and it’s a joy to spend it with my kids. I’m very grateful that they all come home for Christmas. And one of my daughters turns the tables on me every year, and fills a stocking for me and leaves it on my bed, which I open with delight before I go to bed: This year, two beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs, two little porcelain dishes with sayings I love on them: one of them says “The best is yet to be”, and 2 books I can’t wait to read, some cookies, chocolates and chocolate covered pretzels—-and a letter from Santa to me, urging me to be ‘naughtier’ next year!!! Now there’s a fun invitation!!!

And at the end of it all, before I go to bed, I am writing to you. I hope that your Christmas is unfolding gently and lovingly, that it met your expectations and fulfilled your hopes and dreams. Above all, I hope it was peaceful and that you shared it with people you love, and weren’t alone. You are in my thoughts, and I wish you again a very, very happy Christmas. And in the chaos of Christmas tomorrow, I will be thinking of you too. I hope it is a wonderful day!!!

Merry Christmas!! love, Danielle

12/19/17, Busy Days

Posted on December 19, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits, and not too rushed, swamped, and stressed by the season. This last week before Christmas is a challenge!! Finish Christmas shopping, finish wrapping, send presents to people far away, get the Christmas cards out, visit family, and/or fly to far away locations, and just getting through it all, whatever it takes. It seems to be a tradition now at our house that some major function in our (very old, 111 year old) house breaks right before Christmas, usually too late to fix it in time for the holiday. A few years ago, the entire heating system broke down, and no one could do a major repair until after New Year, so we literally ate Christmas dinner in warm winter jackets. One year, one of the water heaters broke. This year, the hot water is suspiciously cool, and a dining room window broke and won’t close. And when you jam every room full of people, and 20+ people take showers at the same time, the house no longer seems to be used to full occupancy, and some vital system collapses. I see chilly baths in my future for the next week!!! (The same thing used to happen at our beach house over my birthday, when alarms would go off, the hot water would run out, and someone would have forgotten to get a fresh tank of butane or propane or whatever so we could cook. Oops!!) But whatever the kinks in the house, I am happiest when our house is full to the gills, and my whole family is home. That’s the best part of Christmas or any holiday for me.

We all know what the stresses of Christmas are. The important thing is not to let them eclipse the joys of the season. Family battles, minor or major feuds, the usual problems that plague us all and lurk even at Christmas, job worries, financial responsibilities, health issues, and all the dreams we want to come true, and maybe haven’t yet (the right partner, a better job, a nicer home, a kinder boss, an estranged family member to return, a healing for our marriage, a better relationship with those we love). The worries will still be there by next week, so it’s nice if we can put them aside long enough to enjoy the holiday!!!

One of my children volunteered at a homeless shelter for the past two weekends, and I am very proud of her. It is so important to remember those who are less fortunate than we are. No matter what we have or who we are, as humans, there will always be people who have more, and others who have less and need our help. Our foundation in my late son Nick’s honor gives gifts and gift certificates to as many as we can manage at facilities for homeless, troubled, and mentally ill children and young people. And the gift of one’s time is often the greatest gift, and the hardest to give at this time of year.

The year has been crammed full, of good things and scary things (the Napa fires), and sad things, losses and gains, disappointments, victories and lessons learned. Each year is a slice of life with the full mix of blessings and sorrows. And at this time of year, the memories of sweet times and losses flood us, and ultimately carry us through.

So as you rush around this week, trying to remember everything you’ve forgotten to do, and finish all the last details before the holiday, I hope we take a minute to remember our blessings, even if they are small ones, and cherish the good times and the good years, and our hopes for the future. The world around us can be dicey, but even with its ups and downs, we’re lucky in so many ways, no matter how small the blessings.

I send you all my loving thoughts for comfort, strength, and joy, good people in your lives, happy moments that carry you through to better times, and will make these holidays special in some way. May the love and joy and spirit of the holidays be with you, and keep you warm. A very, very happy holiday to all, whatever holiday you celebrate, and wherever you are.

With much love, Danielle

12/11/17, “A Christmas Story”

Posted on December 11, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re holding up okay 2 weeks before Christmas, and not too stressed or tired, or worried about how the holidays will shake out. I hope they will be beautiful in wonderful, unexpected ways!!!

I remembered a story today that touched my heart greatly one Christmas, and wanted to share it with you. (I wrote about it in the little book I wrote about our family dogs, “Pure Joy”.)

I had a very dear friend, a woman who was a great deal older than I was, and became something of an adopted mother and beloved friend when I moved to San Francisco in my early twenties. I was very fortunate that in the course of my lifetime, I have met several older women who took me under their wing, gave me good advice, and kind of mentored me. Isabella was one of them. She was of another era when women who chose careers, usually didn’t marry and have families too. She never married and had no children, and was the only woman in her graduating class at Columbia Law School. She became an attorney, specialized in family law, and eventually became a judge. She was a truly wonderful person, and was the godmother of one of my children. And although she was in her mid-eighties, she had an absolutely terrific mother herself, whom I loved to visit with. Isabella’s mother was clear as a bell and lived to be 103.

My friend Isabella came to Thanksgiving with my family every year, and was a great addition. Well into her eighties she fell ill, but was managing to get through it, and that Thanksgiving, she mentioned at the table that she wished she had a dog. She said it with such longing that it really touched my heart. My children and I discussed it afterwards, and they ALL said, “You should get Isabella a dog”. I wasn’t sure about it, it’s a lot of work to have a puppy, you have to walk it and take care of it, and she’d been sick. I hesitated, and my kids (in their late teens and early 20’s) insisted, “She wants one, Mom….get her a dog.” And somehow, by the end of the night, they convinced me. She had mentioned Maltese as her preferred breed. So I started looking, and a few weeks later, I found an adorable little 5 month old Maltese puppy, and fell in love with it when I went to see it. So I jumped in with both feet, bought everything the puppy was going to need, sweaters and a collar and leash, bowls and toys, food, a bed, and a playpen if she needed to confine it safely. My kids were all home for Christmas by then, and with a sense of total accomplishment, I announced to them, “I got a dog for Isabella!!” They all stared at me as though I’d grown a palm tree on my head. YOU WHAT??….”I got Isabella a dog”, I repeated,”you know, like you told me to”….Their response was unanimous and immediate, “Are you crazy?? She’s too old for a dog…don’t be ridiculous!!!” Don’t be ridiculous??? What happened to their talking me into it after Thanksgiving dinner after she said she wanted one? I reminded all of them of that, and they looked at me as though I was nuts. Was I hallucinating? They insisted I couldn’t give her a dog, and reminded me that she’d been sick recently. Meanwhile, the dog was at our house, with every possible piece of equipment, and what was I going to do with it??? My kids are usually very nice about things, but they had total denial and wanted nothing to do with it. In my fantasies, the whole family would go to Isabella’s house and play Santa Claus and hand her the puppy. No such luck. I was in it on my own. They were all meeting up with friends, had other plans since they’d just gotten home, and no one would go to Isabella’s house with me, with the puppy. Panic set in by then, as I realized that I had gotten talked into something really stupid. What was Isabella going to do with a dog? She probably didn’t mean it anyway. I felt as stupid and as crazy as my kids said I was, and that night, feeling like an idiot, I loaded up my car with all the dog equipment, and drove the puppy to my friend’s house. I was sure she would refuse it and give it right back to me. And then what? I didn’t need a puppy either. I felt like a total idiot, the euphoria of getting the puppy had dissipated, and I was sure my playing Santa Claus with a puppy would be a disaster. And it had seemed like such a good idea….for a minute.

The puppy and I arrived at Isabella’s home, and I had it bundled in a blanket in my arms. I looked at it before I rang the doorbell, and nearly apologized to the dog. It was giving me suspicious looks as if to say “What have you gotten me into?” And finally, I rang the doorbell, and Isabella answered and looked at the bundle in my arms. “What’s that?” she said, as the puppy stuck her head out of the blanket on cue, looking extremely sweet. “It’s a puppy….for you…”I said, in a nervous embarrassed voice, and as I said it, I handed it to her, and the look on Isabella’s face was priceless. She really looked like a kid at Christmas. She took the puppy from me, and went to sit down holding it, as the puppy gave me one backward glance as if it say, “You’re done now, you can leave.” That puppy looked as though she knew she was home and was meant to be there. She didn’t move an inch off Isabella’s lap the whole time I was there, and Isabella lit up like a Christmas tree, as she held the little dog and beamed at me. She named her Trixie, which she said was the name of her first childhood dog. I brought all the equipment in, and set it up, and Isabella and Trixie were thrilled with each other. I’ve never seen so much love in one room, they fell in love immediately, and were inseparable from then on. A few minutes later, Isabella said “thank you for the visit, and the puppy!!” And that was it, they escorted me to the door, and my mission was accomplished. It was love at first sight between the two of them!!

I will admit that I smiled and laughed and cried on the way home, so relieved that it had gone well, so thrilled that Isabella was so happy, and the puppy was in just the right home. I didn’t hear anything from her for a few days afterwards and got worried that Isabella might not admit it if the puppy was too much for her, so I called to check on them, and got a glowing report of how happy they were. The love affair between Isabella and Trixie was just what Christmas should be, and it went on for many years, for the rest of Isabella’s life. They were crazy about each other. They had a good long run, and after Isabella was gone, Trixie went to live with Isabella’s brother and his family, and remained the most adored, pampered dog in the world.

I will never ever forget the sight of Isabella falling in love with the puppy, and the little dog’s look of adoration. And the sheer joy of seeing them together. It was everything that Christmas is supposed to be and made my Christmas that year. Of all the gifts I have ever given anyone, that moment of giving Trixie to Isabella, and seeing the total happiness and love on Isabella’s face was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. And whenever I think of Isabella, which I still do often, I think of Trixie with her on that very special night a few days before Christmas. It was a beautiful Christmas for me because of it, and it still warms my heart when I think of it.

I hope there are wonderful surprises ahead for you in the coming days, or that you can surprise someone in a big or small way. It’s what Christmas is all about (though it was a daring thing I did—-and I really got lucky that it turned out so well.) I hope the days ahead go smoothly for you, and lead up to a VERY happy Christmas!!!

much love, Danielle

11/20/17, Thanksgiving

Posted on November 20, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Well, the holidays are upon us. I’ve been so busy moving, as I told you last week, that the holidays snuck up on me this year. But wherever we are, my children and I fly to get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. We share the holiday with a few close friends who are with us every year, and some friends who join us because they don’t have other plans that year. My married children sometimes spend it with their in laws, but almost the entire family comes together for Thanksgiving (and everyone is home for Christmas). And even our family from Europe comes to join us. It’s a very special holiday, and what I like best about it and try to focus on is that it’s a holiday meant to celebrate gratitude, and makes us think of what we are thankful for. As in all lives, difficult things and challenges and even some sorrows happen during the year, people we love are no longer with us, and we all face hard moments that are often difficult to be thankful for. But woven into the tapestry of our lives, for all of us, are the joys among the sorrows, the unexpected blessings, the enormous gifts that life gives us as well as the challenges. It’s difficult to be grateful for the ‘hard stuff’, but so important to remember the gifts that life gives us every year, that sometimes go unnoticed, or don’t stand out as sharply as the losses or griefs. We have friends to be grateful for, and our children, our homes, our work, the people who make a day suddenly special, the unexpected tender moments that make life worthwhile. The big things to be grateful for are easy to spot, but there are so many smaller moments that we need to cherish and treasure and be grateful for.

Holidays that are spent alone are incredibly hard, and many people find themselves in lonely situations, far from home and loved ones, or at the end of a relationship, or after a loss of some kind. During this holiday even more than any other, it increases the blessing to reach out and embrace the people who need us, whose holidays are looking bleak and lonely. I am always reminded of the phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It has been true for me, at times when I was alone before I was married and had my children.

The theory about Thanksgiving is that it’s about abundance—-an abundance of food, of blessings, of people gathering to share the holiday. That’s a hard concept to hang onto at times, if you’re without a job, a home, the obvious material blessings in life. But abundance is not just about material blessings, it is about all kinds of abundance in our lives, the richness of our friendships, the opportunities we have, the tiny moments of joy that happen, along with the bigger blessings that are easy to remember and be thankful for.

I am grateful for you, my readers, for my friends and children, for the time I get to spend with them, I’m grateful for the kindness and love of my children, and for their happiness and wellbeing, and the good people in their lives. I am so thankful too for my work, my books, my publishers, editor, agent, researcher and all the people who make my work possible, and you most of all for reading the books and being so faithful.

So at this special time of gratitude, thank you for all that you add to my life, your letters, your reactions, the pleasure you have in reading the books and share with me. You give me so much joy!! I hope that your holiday will be filled with an abundance of everything you wish, and all the tiny and large and even huge blessings to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving and all my love, Danielle

ps. I was just reading the responses to my recent blogs, and saw that Joy understood that we lost our Napa house. I’m sorry if I gave that impression. We were incredibly lucky and the house was spared. The flames were all around us, within a mile of our home on all sides, and miraculously, despite burned twigs and branches and charred pieces of wood all around it, the house didn’t burn. So many, many people lost homes in Napa and Sonoma, and our hearts go out to them. (I believe that 9,000 homes and structures burned, although that number may be old by now). And even more tragically, too many people lost their lives, and the firemen and first responders fought courageously to save people and homes.

As for the photographs that we treasure in that home, the whole history of my children’s lives is in those photos, my youngest son did a foolish but very brave thing during the fire. He drove to Napa, got through to our area, despite the heavy smoke and fires raging everywhere, and he went into the house for twenty minutes, grabbed as many of the framed photos as he could off the walls, threw them into his car, and stayed as long as he could. He said that by the time he left you couldn’t see through the smoke. He brought back several hundred of those photos, which I am having copied now, and I will have all the others copied when we get back to the house. It’s a lesson and reminder to make copies of important photos. It would have been a heartbreaking loss to lose them if we had lost the house. And I’m so grateful we didn’t. I was furious with my son for risking himself and going up there, but it turned out all right in the end. He is MUCH more important than the photographs!!!

Thank you for caring about our home there. And among the blessings I will be thankful for on Thanksgiving, and am every day, I’m so grateful that our home was spared. We are so deeply sorry for those who lost their homes, and even more so for the lives lost. They will remain in our hearts and prayers.

love, Danielle

10/31/17, Trick or Treat!!!

Posted on October 31, 2017

 

Hi Everyone,

My apologies, I’m a day late getting my blog up, which doesn’t happen often. I’ve been swamped and traveling and moving around. After the sorrow and the terrors and trauma of the Napa fires, I’m relieved to say that our old family property survived, but there are soooo many sad stories around, of people we know who lost their homes, and some their lives. Truly tragic.
Other than that, I’ve just been busy. Writing, editing, travelling, visiting my children, doing some big projects. And mostly, just trying to be organized, and keep a lot of balls in the air at once.
And here it is, Halloween tomorrow. My children’s favorite day of the year (other than April Fool, when they LOVE to torture me, and call to tell me that either they’re pregnant or in jail, or both)—-but they have a definite love of costumes!!! Their father was incredibly creative when we got invited to costume parties (He went as a Smurf once, and Picasso’s Blue Boy, and was painted blue for both), and almost all my children have inherited that gene (costumes always seem like a lot of work to me, and somewhat embarassing), but my kids have come up with years of great ideas, as dragons, witches, the Little Mermaid, Ursula the nasty octopus, my little pony, Heidi, the Sound of Music, the witch in the Wizard of OZ with the green face. One daughter’s boyfriend dressed up as her dog, and about 2 years ago, one of my daughters dressed up as me for Halloween—-and actually looked like me!!! One of my other daughters was a great matador/bullfighter a few years ago, they have limitless imagination when it comes to Halloween. And we still set a holiday table with tons of candy, and a big cake at the end. I used to love taking my children trick or treating, and some of their friends, and we would drive up and down the streets in our neighbourhood in San Francisco, the children would roll out of the car, squirt Silly String everywhere, march up to someone’s doorstep, and come back with a massive haul of candy, which they would then eat for weeks. Favorite candies were traded. My kids are real pros at Halloween!!!
So I hope you have a great Halloween this week!!! Whether you collect trick or treat goodies, or hand them out, and whether in costume or not—-have a fabulous time!!!

Happy Halloween, love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Holidays, Kids | 2 Comments

8/28/17, Early Bird

Posted on September 4, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Say goodbye to August….and summer. We did it!! Hopefully we all got a little vacation time, relaxed a little, and had some playtime. All in all, I had a good summer, even a very good summer this year, although a very busy one, and got two separate vacation weeks with my children, which made it a great summer for me.

And while leaping into September, and welcoming the fall (I love the weather, and the exciting feeling of starting fresh with new energy—I’ve felt that way since my school days)—–I also do a leap frog jump every year, thinking of the months ahead. True confessions: as I’ve told you before, I am one of those incredibly irritating people who start Christmas shopping in August. I know, it’s awful, and it drives people crazy. But the fall and winter months are my busiest writing time of the year, so I try to use any free time I have before that. And by August, I am itching to get started on Christmas. I did that two weeks ago. It also avoids my standing in long lines in stores in December, and no longer finding anything I want in the right sizes. So I am an early bird Christmas shopper. Very, very early. I started dragging shopping bags home a few weeks ago. And I have other bad habits related to Christmas (which I love!!). I rarely have time to shop, and I love shopping. Most of the time, I am socked away in my office, writing. So it’s really fun for me to get out and look around in the stores and shop. And when I do, watch out!!! First, I start seeing cute things for my kids and close friends that I hope they’ll love, and then a little something for me will catch my eye….hmmm…wow that red purse is cute!! Or a book, or a pair of shoes, or something for the house—-for my house!!! Uh oh!! The joke in the family about my Christmas shopping is “one for them, and one for me….okay, two for them, and one for me….uh oh….three for me, and one for them.”….at five for me, and two for them, I’m in trouble!! I start seeing so many fun things to buy for myself, and have to call myself to order, and focus on who I’m shopping for.

So, to confess all, I am up to my usual tricks. On my first Christmas shopping day two weeks ago, I was positively saintly. I found two things for one son, two things for another son (really fun stuff I hope they’ll love), and two things for one daughter….But on the second day, I started slipping. I jumped straight to finding one Christmas gift for three of my kids, and half a dozen things I loved for me: a pair of dressy pants, a fun purse, and two pairs of shoes. I know, that’s cheating. I came home with several shopping bags for me, and a skimpy catch for the day for everyone else. And of course, I felt guilty when I got home. So now, I’m trying to be good, and only buying Christmas gifts for the people on my list, and restraining myself. But I can tell you it won’t last. Something bright and fun will catch my eye (I bought a little red Chihuahua statue for my Paris office, and a little heart dish. I couldn’t resist!!), and I’ll be off and running again soon with the “3 for them, and 7 for me” system. Christmas shopping is just toooooo much fun!!!

So the Early bird is at it again. Christmas is starting at my house. The end result is that I feel ridiculously virtuous by November, when everyone is starting their Christmas shopping, and I’ve finished. But then of course, there are always the people I’ve forgotten on my list, and rush out to buy something for….so it’s Christmas in August at my house. While the rest of the world is wrestling with September, getting past Labor Day, and car pooling their kids to school, I’m Christmas shopping….it’s just toooo much fun!!! And the five for them, two for me system, or the reverse is just too tempting. The flesh is weak…mine sure is when it comes to Christmas shopping. So have a great week, and I’ll wait a few weeks before I wish you Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays.

love, Danielle