The world is full of characters. This holiday season, many of us with gather with our special characters. I thought with all the heavy going on in the world we could look at our family members with a light-hearted attitude. 

As you encounter many of these characters during holiday gatherings, think about all the things you can learn from them. No matter where they are going, they are always trudging forward. 

Last weekend, the second of our two children was married. Ross, our son, married a wonderful girl from Nashville, Tennessee. It was a great weekend in Nashville, and it left me with an unexpected feeling of accomplishment. Both our kids are now wed to great spouses, and we truly like their families. Two for two, that’s a blessing.  

As with most weddings, there was a large gathering of extended family for both the bride and the groom. It was fun to see these two different worlds collide. Young and old. Alabama and Michigan. Good dancers and bad. These worlds blended for a great celebration.  

I received the text from my neighbor and smiled, happy playtime was over. But I was also thankful for the abundance of playmates for my Little. I typed, “They’re headed your way,” as I politely shooed the kids out of my house and on to the next. I told my Little, “Okay, as soon as you pick up the toy you left, come right back.” He smiled and nodded. 

Ten minutes later, as I took dinner out of the oven, I peeked toward the front door, expecting to see him walking through. No Little. Okay… My eyes wandered over to the trash bin and recyclables. I usually leave them for my husband, but what the heck? Might as well 

We all have secrets. At least, I mean, I think we all have secrets. 

I have one, but it’s not really a secret – at least not to the people that know me well. In fact, I’ve never withheld it from anyone. It is proudly displayed at my home, at my office, on my vehicle, and on many clothing items I possess. But for you, it is probably something that you don't know about me… and it could jeopardize the future of our reader/writer longstanding intimate relationship. 

I was recently challenged by my Sunday school teacher to think more deeply about my true purpose in life. You might think that such a search would typically be done by a teenager or young adult – not a 50-something grandfather who spends his working days helping teenagers find their purpose. But something my Sunday school teacher said struck a nerve and I came to a realization: What I had been telling others and myself, and how I have lived, have been in contradiction.

Pumpkin spice everything, Friday night football jamborees, and having the ability to sit on your front porch and rock without sweating as you enjoy the (semi-cool) evening air. These are all welcome signs of fall in Alabama.  

So, what do we do when we find our children (finally) settled into school routines? What to do when we finally catch a break from the steady string of holidays that necessitate yard decorations, food preparation, and family gatherings that leave us wiped out? We get comfortable and fall around, or course.  

Second to summer, fall is my favorite season because it gives us moms room to just be. Were not chasing our kiddos around the neighborhood like we do during summer as they trek the streets, worrying about how they may be forgetting everything they learned the previous school term. And we’re not yet trying to find a balance between hot and humid Alabama weather one day and potential icy streets the next as we shop for school clothes during winter months. We can relax and find ourselves in a routine void of stress, unpredictability, and busyness.  This fall, I have found so much happiness in the day to day responsibilities that go along with having a family. I’ve especially enjoyed our discovery of intellectually and entertaining day trips that give us time together, help us grow and learn, and help us discover new things about the state in which we live.  

Trying to figure out what you want to do as it pertains to a long-term career is a pretty daunting task. And it should be. Teenagers have a hard time picking out shoes… you think they have a clue what they want to do for the rest of their life 

The masses have returned.

Tuscaloosa is weird. Within our humble city lies all facets of industry providing gainful employment to anyone looking to make an honest living. Good, hard-working, blue-collar people are primarily what make our area tick. The industries feed our economy and our families whether you or a family member are directly employed by them or not. 

Six years, three months, and 10 days into motherhood, I have noticed some things. I’ve hit a high professionally, my Little is more independent of me and is thriving in his new school environment, and he and I have had conversations that are a little bit more “grown-up” than normal. We’ve talked back and forth, about big people things, with no tantrums or denials of guilt and amusingly solid moments of reflection on his behalf. Is this what it’s like when previous stressors become mere normality, depositing blocks of time back in your day since they are no longer causes for anxiety? I think so. 

What am I to do? Amid moving to a new home, navigating a new business, and learning a new way to school for my Little, there are some key things I’m trying to remember as I learn this new way of motherhood. I’m surviving and growing independent while my Little does the same. 

There are dozens of reasons to appreciate The Sidewalk Film Festival, downtown Birmingham’s annual seven venue showcase of films, food and community. The most obvious is the thrill of seeing films with an audience. In an age of multi-media input and output, which is all but demanding that the audience enjoy their movies in the comfort of their own home, there is still a purity and a thrill to sitting in the dark with a group of strangers have sharing a common emotion.

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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