Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for November, 2011


Like every other family, we have our Thanksgiving traditions: family walk in the leaves, watching football, grandma’s sweet potato pie, my mom’s stuffing, decorating for Christmas after we eat Thanksgiving dinner…. Oh wait, we blew that one this year.

As wonderful as traditions are (and my children are really coming to anticipate certain traditions with delight) sometimes they just don’t work out or fit our current lives. Just as in life, circumstance has other ideas.

For example, this year the Ravens decided to have a home game at 8:20pm on Thanksgiving night. So much for eating Thanksgiving dinner, cleaning up and spending the rest of the night decorating for Christmas (sometimes into the wee hours of the night until we are done). This year we had a football game to attend! It was also just the four of us; with the rest of our family celebrating elsewhere.

Traditions out the window!

My mom gave us a delicious cranberry turkey (in the crockpot!) recipe – and I asked my boys what their favorite Thanksgiving dish was: pumpkin pie and stuffing…so we had turkey, pumpkin pie and stuffing for dinner. Actually – we had stuffing and pumpkin pie for dinner, and turkey for dessert (it took a bit longer to cook than we planned). With our late-night decorating not an option, we turned on the Macy’s Day Parade and decorated all day (instead of all night…might become a new tradition!) Then bundled up ourselves – and the dog – and headed to Baltimore for the night.

The Ravens won, but the best part was spending the night with my boys (all three – actually all four, if you count the dog…and the dog would definitely want to be counted).

This was not a “typical” Thanksgiving filled with traditions, but the memories created will last forever. My boys will never forget “that one Thanksgiving we went to the Ravens game and took the dog to the hotel!” It’s all they’ve been talking about. What more could I be thankful for than a happy, healthy family??!!

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    Yes, the holidays are here – you can see them at whatever retail store you walk in. Some people love this, some people get annoyed when the back-to-school clothes are replaced with Christmas candy. (The candy part I happen to like…)

    But I thought of this yesterday when I was spending the day with my mom. She is in town visiting and we enjoyed a fun mother-daughter day of shopping (Home Depot, Target and the grocery store – not the kind of shopping you might think), catching up and spending time together. And then I realized (although I already knew): this was my holiday time with my mom. She will be with my sister next week in Florida for Thanksgiving, and then in Phoenix with my brother for Christmas (before leaving on a post-Christmas trip with my dad). My holiday time with my mom was this week.

    I suppose there are two ways I could approach this: sad that I won’t be with my parents or siblings for the holidays this year; or thrilled to spend the time with them that I do. My family is spread across the country, and yet we manage to visit and stay in close touch. I may not eat Thanksgiving dinner with my mom next week, but I got to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with her this week – in addition to going for long walks in the Fall leaves (she doesn’t have those in AZ), laughing as we bought a new recycling bin at Home Depot, and playing with my boys when we picked them up from school. It’s not turkey and stuffing, but I am filled with gratitude, love and appreciation for this time with her.

    Gratitude, love and appreciation. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is about? I guess I began the holiday celebration a bit early this year. Kind of like the retail stores….

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    I knew before I left for Phoenix that I would blog about my 20-year high school reunion; I just didn’t know exactly what I would say. Yet, like with most events or situations in my life, everything falls into place with patience and an open heart.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect after 20 years. I am such a different person than I was in high school, although most of us are. I, however, have experienced life over the past 20 years in a way that most have not. For better or worse? Not sure. But what I found when I returned to Xavier was that some things had changed, but most had not – in a good way.

    The campus has indeed changed. Even from when I was a teacher at XCP, the campus has changed. It’s amazing, and the buildings and class offerings mirror the diverse talent of Xavier graduates. The mission, however, has not changed; nor has the spirit of Xavier alumnae.

    We were all glad to see our friends from high school, and I believe most of us were also glad to connect with those perhaps we weren’t as close to in high school. For as you either know or can imagine, attending an all-girls high school comes with its social complexities. However, as alumnae – 20 years out – we may all be at various stages in our lives, but the fundamental values are the same. We are all working (either inside the home or out) to be good, faith-filled women who make a difference in the lives of others (whether the “others” are our children, our workplace, or the community at large). We are all trying to do too much, and do it all well and with a sense of purpose; and we are all striving to be better women. We are Xavier alumnae.

    One of the most amazing aspects of the weekend, for me, came out of sadness (as many inspiring moments do). We have a classmate whose 6-year-old daughter is battling cancer: a tumor that runs the length of her little spine. As a mother, I can not imagine what my classmate endures on a daily basis. As a woman who has endured my own battle to walk again, I wanted to help.

    Our class held a raffle (with donated prizes) to raise money for Emma the Brave. (Emma’s insurance only covers 1/3 of the physical therapy sessions Emma needs to walk again.) In the days since, the Facebook posts on our Reunion page have mostly dealt with “how can we help Emma?” That is what Xavier is all about. This is the sense of community to which I wanted to belong – and now do. What can I do to help a young girl walk again (sound familiar?) Whatever I can…

    I went to my high school reunion to see old friends. I left with new friends, and newly inspired by a 6-year-old girl and her mother. Go Gators!

    To follow Emma’s journey, “Like” her Facebook page: Emma the Brave Will Walk Again

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