thanksgiving point

sdo – sisters’ day out

by jani on November 14, 2012

GNO or GDO have become common acronyms for those fun night or day outings with our BFFs – mainly just a great excuse to get together with our girlfriends. Well here’s my newest acronym and I hope I can use it more frequently because it is just a special day… SDO or “Sisters’ Day Out”!

We often hear the term sibling rivalry. Yep, I had this with my big sister, but only in the typical, “Jani, you ruined my favorite sweater!” kind of way! My sister is five years older and has always been perfect in every way. She always followed the rules… I always broke them. If someone mistook me for my sister, it was immediately followed with, “Oh wait…  you’re the younger one…  the one with the personality! That’s right, your sister’s the pretty one!” So, you see the rivalry really never came from her, personally. It’s how those who were on the periphery viewed us, that set me up with years of feeling inadequate.

Dee Dee (my nickname for my big sis) went to Castilleja (prep) School… so of course I had to follow in her footsteps. She went to Stephens College in Missouri… so I went to Stephen’s College. She was a dancer… so I felt that I needed to be a dancer. Her field of expertise was ballet; mine was contemporary jazz. She got her degree in secondary education and became a beloved teacher for thirty years –  raising two lovely children. I received my degree in elementary education from University of Denver and began my family and career as an at-home mom of seven. Why did I always feel like I somehow needed to compete…  to become as accomplished as my sis? So many wasted years of struggling to be just like my sister… which was a total impossibility, to begin with. The only time I could even remotely share clothes with her was when I was 15 and she was 20! She’s always been a perfect size 2 to 4 – I’ve always fluctuated between a size 12 to 16. Whenever I could wear a size 10 it was time to celebrate! And at one or two times in my life, I actually fit in an 8… imagine that?!

So, I’ve finally had this epiphany this past weekend… all those years spent feeling I couldn’t possibly fit in my sister’s shoes (both figuratively and literally) was self imposed! We are as different as two people could ever be and yet, there is a love and respect between us that will last forever!  That difference is what makes each of us to be the best “us” we can be! I see the refection in my sister’s eyes differently now. I see her smiling with a love and admiration that can only come when you feel genuine love and respect. She truly wants and hopes for my happiness and I for hers.

Every year for as long as we can remember, she chose to spend her birthday with our mom. Now that Mom lives near me in an assisted living home in Utah, my sister flies the many miles from her Bay Area home to spend this special weekend with my mom and me. This year was no exception. But during the latest visits Dee Dee has made, we have found time for just the two of us. It has become our SNO or SDO. We treasure this time. We catch up one each other’s lives, our children’s lives – and of course sharing photos of the newest grandchild. We reminisce on many of the  moments from our youth, and always… always find ourselves laughing that hearty laugh that can only come from the deepest core!

If you are ever struggling with a sister rivalry, get over it. One or both of you let go of those feelings that can tend to poison relationships. It’s just not worth the pettiness! And you may never enjoy my favorite new acronym for a best time spent… the SDO.

Here are a few shots we took at a favorite gift shop – the Emporium at Thanksgiving Point. We could spend hours there… and we did!

So no, we’re no longer those two little girls working on trying to be the best in our parent’s eyes. We know we’re the best in each other’s!

If you have a sister or are fortunate enough to have more than one… take that special plunge. Find time for just the two of you and make it count. After all, isn’t this what families are all about? “Together Forever”!


shear delight at thanksgiving point

by jani on May 21, 2012

What a wonderful experience, sharing at this years annual Lamb Festival at Thanksgiving Point. Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah,  is a gift to the community from Dr. Allen Ashton (one of the founders of Word Perfect) and his wife, Karen. It’s an amazing facility with hand-on discovery for all ages. The venue for the Lamb Festival was at Farm Country. This is a wonderful activity for the entire family – young and old!

Every year at Thanksgiving Point there’s a celebration of the shearing of the sheep. There are several weavers, spinners, local venders and of course sheep shearing demonstrations and lots of baby lambs!

weaving machine 1

sheep shearer 10

3 week old baby lamb 1

I was there by invitation, displaying my grandma, Mattie’s woven, wool blanket.

Many of the visitors that day were weavers. They stopped to examine this blanket, often commenting on the brilliance of this piece of work. I found out that it is most likely an overshot weave coverlet Linsey-woolsey (which is a linen warp and a woolen  weft).

weaver studying blanket 1

This blanket has a fascinating history! My grandma, Mathilda Theora Crawford Willett, was born on July 14, 1861. That right, my grandma was born at the onset of the Civil War in a confederate state. This is my history and it’s a horrible part that many of us share. My grandma, her parents and her forebear generations owned slaves. As one who marched in the civil rights marches of the sixties, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the dark history of my family roots. But as awful as it is to comprehend, it is a part of our past.

close-up of blanket 1

This blanket was made during my grandma’s ninth year in the summer of 1870. My grandma spent the summer on her grandparent’s sheep farm watching the former or “emancipated” slaves shear the sheep, clean and card the wool, spin it and dye it and finally weave it into this exquisite blanket. My great, great grandparents gifted this blanket to her at the end of that summer. My grandma gave it to her son, my dad, and now I have inherited it. The only way I can honor the hard work that went into this blanket, is to share this story… sometimes bringing me to tears. I can’t change history, I wish I could, but I can help educate. This is the main reason I always bring a photo of Jake, a former slave and an unsung hero, whenever I display Grandma Mattie’s blanket.

A photo of Jake and a picked cotton ball.

My dad told me the story of Jake. He worked in the cotton fields all his life and due to that arduous work, he constantly walked all hunched over. But with all this man had to endure, he would proudly lift his worn-out body to a straight and dignified standing position anytime a photo was taken. The people, I understand, laughed and made fun of this brave man. But nothing, not even the pain he must have suffered, ever stopped him from standing for his picture to be taken. In displaying this blanket, I honor Jake and all of those who suffered during this horrible part of our country’s history.

Please take a moment and think about this; may it never happen again!