From 100 to 10 in 24 hours.

Two days ago, I was running around like a Christmas maniac, pants on fire. Yesterday I was in that special level of hell that is Comcast & the dreaded Motor Vehicle Department, trying to get a new cable box working and register my car, while in between I returned stuff I’d bought the day before, and bought stuff I’ll probably return tomorrow. A week ago, we had 100 people at our house for the college party, and tomorrow we’re in for a long night of church, fun and games with about 25 of our best friends.

But today, I’ve been by myself all day, writing and thinking, and tonight is stretching out in front of me like a long road I want to take.

My husband has been in New York with his elderly dad for the last few days, which makes me remember my own sweet, sad last hours with my dad. My daughter is at her boyfriend’s house all day (and most of the night), which makes me realize that she’s all grown up now. I’ve got no plans, nothing left to shop for, no reason to cook, and it feels simultaneously delicious and strangely hollow. I can’t decide if it thrills me to be alone, or makes me sad – and I feel the same way about the end of this blog.

Yep, What Gives 365 is going the way of all flesh and will be retiring with no pension in a few days. In January, I’ll be starting a new blogging project and inviting you – no, begging each one of you to come along with me…invitation soon to follow. For my brand spanking-new Heifer 12 x 12 project, I’ll be traveling to 12 countries in 12 months in 2012 with Heifer International as their Global Blogging Ambassador – a title I totally made up and really like.

Heifer's Greeting Card: You've Got Goats!

But since I’m already awash/overwhelmed with all the travel, technology, planning, photography, and oh yeah, writing that’s involved, I’ll have to put an end to What Gives 365, (although I’ll still be leaving it up so anybody can come back and roam freely through the archives). Which feels like I’m breaking up with the best, nicest boyfriend ever. Boo hoo hooo!

Luckily, I’ve been through enough romantic turmoil in my life (way, way more than enough) that I realize full well what comes after all the pillow-soaked sobbing: Happiness. Fulfillment. And a better relationship.

Still, I hate the end of things. I don’t like to see the leaves fall, and I can’t stand when it’s 65 degrees in the winter. I want things to be the way they’re supposed to be – like they were when I was a child.

Petunias not supposed to be blooming...

I grew up in a family of 8 kids, so I’m only truly comfortable when it’s totally chaotic, frantically busy, and overwhelming noisy. In my family, we trimmed the tree on Christmas Eve (not two weeks before) and sang carols together and my mom disappeared down into the basement at midnight to wrap all our presents ($25 was spent on each child, not a dime more and certainly not a quarter less) and nobody was ever alone for two consecutive seconds. How did I end up with a life that is so entirely different? Silence and solitude scare me, and yet … I find I’m beginning to really like both. Maybe this is what’s known as balance? Or maturity?

Wow, I never thought it would come to this. What a gift!

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HANUKKAH, Y’ALL!!

(And my present to you is from Robert Frost, one of my favorite poems called “Reluctance.”)

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?