All Is Bright

The holidays have come and gone, and oh my goodness they were wonderful and crazy. Here’s what went down:

Everyone arrived by Christmas Eve, and the crazy, fun, crowded, and busy family time began. A HUGE surprise was that cousin Avery brought a girl with him. A girl. Like a not-related-to-us girl. Like a girl-met-at-university-and-I-want-you-to-meet-her girl. Auntie T didn’t even know “the girl” existed until they showed up at Avery’s university to pick him up! She was pretty upset. It got a bit awkward when we realized that she would have to share a room with the rest of us girl cousins. Ellie was not happy, she was extremely sassy when they got here, way more than her usual sassy.

It worked out okay though. First of all, the girl’s name is Megan. She’s from California, but is going to school at Avery’s university. She’s very nice, though she dresses very colorfully. Cammie and I have caught Avery and Megan several times together under the mistletoe.

Now, we are all enjoying our presents. Oh, what a plethora (Father says that’s a better word than “a lot”) of presents! I think this is the most fun, seeing my cousins playing with their new toys, wearing their new clothes, and all using their new things. Ellie is walking around like a peacock, showing off all her new things, practically strutting. Cammie and I burst out laughing every time we see her prancing around and glancing at herself on every reflective surface (windows, clean tables, and mirrors).

The day after Christmas, Father and I have a tradition: We get up early, bundle up, take a thermos full of coffee for him and tea for me, grab our cameras, and “go for a wander”. We walk and take pictures, but only a few, because we have a rule that we can only take a picture of something truly beautiful. Before taking the picture, we must explain our reasoning to the other. Why is this picture of something truly beautiful. He always finishes our walk by taking a picture of me and telling me that he “must”,and “because there is nothing in the world more beautiful to me than you, Marie”. 

I asked him this year, why he started our tradition of wandering. He said that he didn’t; Mother did.

Father said that when he and Mother first got married, they didn’t have money to go anywhere special for holidays, or any other special day for that matter, so they would go walk, talk, and take pictures. When she got sick, and couldn’t walk as much anymore, Father started taking me on walks. This is how most of our traditions started, with Mother.

Our walk-wandering is probably my favorite Christmas tradition. More than presents.

The picture I took today was of a grey field, taken at a slightly crooked angle, and full of sheep. Normal, everyday beauty.

New Years is right around the corner. Father says we will be heading to the States after New Years and probably staying there for a while. That will be different. I know America is big, but we go around the world all the time, so staying in one country for a while is really different for us.

Mother’s side of the family is in America, so maybe that is why? Father really isn’t explaining much to me. He’s almost being secretive about it. It makes me nervous when he does this. I don’t like unknown things. Father probably thinks he’s being fun or that I’ll love the surprise, but I just want to know so I can talk to him about it and think it over and bond with the idea and…. I just want him to tell me!

Family and Holiday Time – Father and I

November is gone, and December is here! Family is arriving at Grandma and Grandpa Miles’ cottage house, making it feel full and festive. The Holidays are here, it’s Family Time. Father has two brothers and a fraternal (which means they look nothing alike) twin sister, and they will all be here by Christmas day. I love being with all the cousins. I am right in the middle age-wise, and I’m “the American cousin” (even though I’m really half) so they think I’m extra fun. I think it’s because of my accent.

Cousin Sid keeps walking around the house saying “Christmas time’s a-comin’!” in an absolutely horrible American accent, but it makes everyone laugh, so he just keeps doing it. He’s such a clown. 

Right now, it’s a couple weeks away from Christmas, so not everyone is here yet. Maybe I should explain who everyone is and which cousins go with what Aunt and Uncle… Yeah. I’ll do that first.

The oldest in Father’s family is Uncle Wesley. He is married to Aunt Mel, and they have two kids, Sid and Cammie. Sid is 16 and Cammie is 11, and is the closest to me in age of all the cousins, so we play together the most.

Uncle Will is the next oldest, and he is not married. He loves all us cousins so much, and he couldn’t stand watching his siblings be parents and not have any children himself, so he adopted Marcus about three years ago. Marcus is 7 now.

Auntie T, Father’s twin sister, and Uncle Vin have four kids, Avery who is 20 now, Ellie who is 17 and always sassy, Gemma who is 12, only three years older than I am, and baby Bert who is 5 now. Bert was a happy surprise to the family. Babies are so fun! I also learned last year that Avery is not Uncle Vin’s son, but when Auntie T and Uncle Vin got married, Uncle Vin adopted Avery, and since Avery was only two or three at the time Uncle Vin is really the only daddy Avery has ever known.

When everyone is here it is super crowded! All the girl cousins have to share one room, and all the boy cousins have to share one room. The parents all get their own rooms, except Uncle Will, who gets the couch. 

“That’s what I get for not getting married!” He says every year, very dramatically.

It’s not too bad though, the family room with the couch is separate from the hall, which leads to all the bedrooms, and from the kitchen, so we can maneuver (which means move carefully) around the house in the morning and at night without waking him up. Avery has offered to take the couch several years in a row now, but I don’t think Uncle Will much likes the idea of sharing a room with Sid, Marcus, and baby Bert. Father gets his own room, because he and Mother used it together, and no one wants to make him change now he’s alone.

Right now, it’s just Father, me, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Wesley, Aunt Mel, Sid, and Cammie, which sounds like a lot all listed out like that, but actually it feels spacious! Sid’s in a room on his own, and Cammie and I are sharing just the two of us (almost like we’re sisters). Sometimes we do pretend to be sisters and she talks with an American accent, (which actually sounds very good, unlike Sid) and I will talk with a British accent. We have fun, though every now and then we need “me time”. Aunt Mel suggested it, I think because Cammie is getting “pre-teen-y” and moody. Aunt Mel says it happens to everyone and Cammie is very sensitive to it. Aunt Mel usually swoops in an institutes (meaning put into place) “me-time” before too much friction (another word for conflict) starts between us, and we give each other space for a little while. I think Aunt Mel is very wise (I don’t think I need to explain that word).

Cammie is a lot like Father. She is creative and thoughtful, talkative but not outgoing (Aunt Mel had to explain that word to me, I’m not sure I get what it is, I just know what it isn’t…). Cammie is generally sweet and friendly, but can get “passionate” (as Aunt Mel calls it) when she disagrees with someone. 

Sometimes, when Cammie needs space, I go outside with Sid. Since he’s a boy, he doesn’t really like to sit inside and talk like Cammie, but he and I will play outside together for hours, at least until Avery gets here. Sid idolizes (also a new word I learned from Aunt Mel, it means you put all your attention toward that thing or person) our grown-up cousin Avery. 

Other times, I will go sit with Grandma or Grandpa and we will read a book out loud together, or I’ll tell them stories about places and people Father and I visited.

Tomorrow, Grandma and Aunt Mel are taking Cammie and me into town. We are getting last minute shopping done, and treating ourselves to some Christmas treats. We always go out and have a Christmas luncheon with tea, and cookies, and everything! Usually we wait until Aunt T and the gang arrive, but this year they are coming exactly on Christmas Eve (instead of on an earlier day like other years) because of Avery’s university schedule. 

The rest of the year Father and I are dashing around the world, but during the holidays Father stops everything and just enjoys “family time”. I love it. Father says this coming year we will be slowing down. I don’t know what that means, I hope it means more family time, because I would love that. At the same time, that makes me nervous. I’ve been traveling around with Father all my life. When Mother was still here, we traveled as a little family. Now, it’s Father and I, as a smaller family. I love traveling, but having a home might be nice too. I’m not sure, I’ve never really had a place to call home. Just family, which is good too. Just different.

The dark day – Father and I

The holidays are coming, and for as far back as I can remember, the holidays have always started on November 12th, Mother’s birthday. When I was little, this day started the festive season with a bang, so much fun and festive-ness. It was wonderful.

Now, instead of starting the holiday season with joy, it starts with darkness. 

This year we are spending the holidays with Father’s parents, Grandma and Grandpa Miles, in England. They live in an old house out in the English country. I call it The English Farm House, but they call it The Cottage. Either way it is beautiful. It has a huge garden with growing things everywhere! Though, right now many of the trees are leafless and twiggy. 

None of the relatives are here yet. It’s just Father and I, Grandma and Grandpa.



When I wrote the above, I was going to bed and it wasn’t the 12th yet, but I can’t sleep…

It is about 1 am right now. Officially her birthday. I went to bed at about 9, but I just lay there, thinking of her. Her eyes. Her smile. Her necklace with the gold heart and the tiniest of diamonds resting in the middle of it. I wear it everyday, so I will never forget her.

I will never forget her. She’s Mother.

But I realized, as I was laying in bed, that there are things about her that I am forgetting.

What did her voice sound like? What did her arms feel like when she hugged me? How tall was she again? What was her favorite Christmas song? What did her singing voice sound like?

I don’t cry often anymore, but that’s when I cried.

I’m starting to forget details.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I was only 6. There are so many things you think to remember when you are 6. There are so many other things you wish you had asked. There are so many more things you can remember now, that you were too little to remember at 6. 

I am so filled with darkness. It’s not sadness really, it’s more like emptiness, like a room you used to go into all the time is now dark and unused. It’s been four years. So the really deep sad feeling is more numb now. But there is still darkness. Father feels that darkness too, I think. He won’t talk about it though.

Tomorrow morning is the morning I will not see him. He will spend it in his room. He will lay in his bed, covers pulled up to his scruffy chin (he’s growing out his beard), and just lay there. Eyes closed. If he opens his eyes, he will cry. He’s too British for that.

Grandma will bring breakfast and coffee to his room, and sit with him. She will not say anything. Everything has been said, but she says, “He should not be alone”. So, she will sit with him until he gets up. She will stay with him all day if need be. 

I will not go sit with him, the darkness gets too dark when we look at each other.


Now I am alone, downstairs on the couch with the quilt off my bed, writing in my diary.

Grandpa found me last night on the couch. He made me hot chocolate. He said that dark days are okay to have, as long as we don’t spend them alone. Alone, the darkness will swallow us up. Alone, the cold living room would have swallowed me without Grandpa there, and the hot chocolate. He started the fire and sat with me until I fell asleep. I woke this morning still on the couch, Grandpa was still with me, asleep in his easy chair.

We had breakfast together, just Grandpa and I. He told me to get dressed, and we’ll get out of the house for a little while. There’s some sun coming through the clouds today, and he said a lamb was born a few days ago. I’d like to see the lamb, and the walk in the sun with Grandpa will be good. 

Dark days need people, sunshine, good food, and love. Lots of love.

At the Vineyard – Father and I

We are at the Blasi family vineyard! We have been here now for two weeks. It’s been all very exciting and busy, so I haven’t had time to write until now because… but I’ll get to that in a minute.

When we first got here, I got to see Laura, Gabriel, baby Leo, Mrs. Blasi, Mr. Blasi, and Mami, but I didn’t get to see Papi for another whole day. I was sad, but Mami told me that Papi has to take things slowly, and to be patient. Finally, Mami took me into Papi’s room, and I understood what she was talking about. He has gotten so old and little. He sits crumpled up in his bed, like he’s shrunk into a wrinkled little boy. I don’t know if he is sick, or just old. I asked Father why Mr. Blasi didn’t just move Mami and Papi to Italy and he said it was because Mr. Blasi’s father can’t get out of bed anymore, so they came to him.

I asked Mrs. Blasi how it has been moving all the way over here. She said it has been “an adventure”. That’s probably an understatement (I just learned this word. I like it. It’s a great word.) Now they have a new house, new family to take care of, and a vineyard to take care of too! It’s quite a bit more than “an adventure”, I think.

I heard Mr. Blasi tell Father that it is good that his brother also gave them a good amount of money to run the vineyard, I don’t really understand that. A vineyard is where grapes grow, and grapes are plants. Plants don’t need money to grow. They need water, sun, and good soil.I have been learning a lot about plants while we’ve been here. Father says it’s a very hands on way of learning about the science of plants, or botany. It’s a huge vineyard, so there is a lot to learn

I’ve been playing with Gabriel and Laura a lot, but mostly on the weekends because they have “real” school. They call my kind of school “home” school. I think that’s a silly name for it, I’m never home when I do “home” school. I’m usually on a train, or an airplane, or in a car.


Last Friday, when Laura and Gabriel got home from school, they took me on their bikes to see the old church, Father and Mr. Blasi came too. I rode on Gabriel’s handlebars, he was being nice. I had seen it before, but not up close yet. You can see it from their house if you stand in the front yard or look out from one of the upstairs windows on that side of the house. Father took lots of pictures when we got there. It was very pretty in the sunset. Gabriel said the church is not the only thing that looks pretty in the sunset, which made my cheeks get really hot, and made Laura make a barfing noise.

I liked riding on Gabriel’s handle bars, no matter what Laura says or the noises she makes. 

We haven’t been able to ride at all now because it has gotten very wet and cold. It’s getting colder everyday I think, and it should have started snowing at least three nights ago, but instead all we get is frigid rain (I ran out of words for cold, so Father taught me this new one. It’s a good one). 

Today, for example, is Saturday, and Laura, Gabriel, and I should all be outside playing around and exploring, but it is too wet and cold to leave the warm and cozy house. 

So, instead we are playing inside things. Laura is playing with some paper dolls I brought for her. Gabriel is attempting to play scales on his guitar (Mr. Blasi is teaching him to play). I am writing.

Disclaimer:
Photograph is not mine. It is beautiful and fits with the story well.
Photograph credit:
http://www.studentshow.com/gallery/60216757/Swiss-Church-Study

Over the Mountains – Father and I

I’m so excited!
We are going to the Blasi’s vineyard, farther into Switzerland. I love the Blasi family. Father has known the Blasi family for a long time, even before I was born. My Mother and Mrs. Blasi were friends in college, before Mother and Father met. Our families have been close for a long time. I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few months with them.

I’ve never been to their vineyard, or any vineyard. Father says it is beautiful, but we aren’t actually for any of Father’s work. Mr. Blasi asked Father to come and help him at the vineyard. Apparently, it’s a family business, but Mr. Blasi’s brother and father had been taking care of it on their own. Mr. and Mrs. Blasi have just moved back to the Swiss vineyard from Italy, because Mr. Blasi’s brother died last year, and his parents are too old to handle the vineyard alone. It’s very sad. That part, I am not excited about. Mr. Blasi’s parents are like my grandparents. I call them Mami and Papi, and I love them very much.

I’m mostly excited to spend time with Mami and Papi, and with the Blasi children, Gabriel, Laura, and Leo, especially Laura. She’s 8, just 6 months younger than me. She’s like a cousin. I’m so excited to play with her!

I love traveling with Father, but sometimes I want to around someone else, someone my age, or close to my age. I’m with grown ups a lot. They’re usually very nice to me, some even play with me, but they aren’t kids. Sometimes I wish I had a sister, like Laura. Or a brother, like Gabriel, though he’s 12 and sometimes he’s annoying.

The train is going through the mountains now. It’s magnificent. Father says that word may not mean what I want it to mean in talking about the mountains, but I’m pretty sure it does.
Magnificent means: “impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.”
The Swiss alps are magnificent.

(Father printed this picture out for me once we got to the Blasi’s home, so I could paste it in my journal)

Disclaimer:
The above photo was obtained from this website: (it is not mine, and is in no way property of Gracious Purpose Blog, credit goes entirely to the following site and their gifted photographer)

https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/10-of-the-best-adventures-in-the-swiss-alps/