Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Wish for some Holiday Spirit

I used to love Christmas. At least I did until it was my responsibility to make it happen. My mother was a true Christmas lover and I learned from a young age to adore the lights, packages and wonderful smells that came out of the kitchen. As I got older Christmas lost a bit of its shine but then I was getting married and creating my own traditions. My husband has always thought I was a little nuts about Christmas but was patient even in those years when our house was decorated like a gift shop.

When my children were young I both loved and hated Christmas. I was a stay at home mom for long enough that my family got used to me making Christmas a big production. Some days I enjoyed it other days I was so exhausted I could hardly see straight. Christmas took on a life of its own that consumed many hours until I returned to work full time.

I loved my job but it quickly became apparent to me (if not to my family) that something had to give. The first year I tried not to have anything change and came away from the season resentful. By the next year I had a wonderful book called Unplug the Christmas Machine and was ready to try something new. I sat the family down and told them I couldn't continue to be supermom and needed their help in deciding what Christmas traditions we were going to keep and which would go.

Of course the outcry was deafening. No a thing must change - of course they would help. I held firm and asked each person to identify one food and one tradition that absolutely defined Christmas for them. I've never been able to pare Christmas down quite that much but was able to make it more manageable. I actually started enjoying some of the holiday again.

The holidays have continued to be a struggle for me since then. I still love the Christmas tree (though I opted for a fake tree this year for the first time since none of the kids will be here).
I love Christmas music and goodies if someone else is making them. My decorations sit in closets with only the minimum put out. Of course the fact that I would have to use dynamite on my house to get it clean enough to decorate might have something to do with that.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to holiday happiness the last few years has been my job. December has become one of the busiest months of the year with many pressures and little time for holiday joy. I get caught in the pull between wanting to be home and needing to be taking care of business. Mostly I decide I just want the holidays over so I don't have to deal with extra demands on my time.

Now that I have that out of my system perhaps I can enjoy the day and take a little time for a cup of holiday tea and get the tree out of the box. At least that is a start.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nothing better to do

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? My daughter and her roommates - they are always entertaining

2.What were you doing at 0800? Sleeping - what sane person wouldn't be on a weekend?

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Eating dinner and surfing the net

4. What happened to you in 2006? Who can remember that long ago?

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? Pizza's here

6. How many beverages did you have today? At least 5

7. What color is your hairbrush? Don't own one - I use a hair pick

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Previously mentioned pizza

9. Where were you last night? In Phoenix at the John Prine concert - it was awesome

10 What color is your front door? Brown

11. Where do you keep your change? Everywhere - purse, kitchen drawer, desk drawer, counter. . .

12.What’s the weather like today? Warm and slightly cloudy

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? Anything with chocolate

14. What excites you? New books, seeing my family, reaching a goal

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Just did as it is fairly short

16. Are you over the age of 25? I don't want to even discuss this

17. Do you talk a lot? Yes, at times.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes, he's rehabbing in Phoenix from a broken neck which has left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. It really sucks at 24.

20. Do you make up your own words? No, but many family members do

21. Are you a jealous person? Not usually but the green monster has appeared in the past

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. I don't have any 'A' friends.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Kathe - college best friend, maid of honor, great lady

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? Probably my daughter Nicole

25. What does the last text message you received say? I don't text so it has been over a year.

26. Do you chew on your straw? Yes, and pens also

27. Do you have curly hair? Depends on how humid it is how curly it is

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? California for Thanksgiving

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? Don't want to go there - the negative energy might overwhelm me

30. What was the last thing you ate? Again pizza

31. Will you get married in the future? Hopefully I'll stay with just the current one

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? Haven't seen anything new

33. Is there anyone you like right now? My hubbie

36. Did you cry today? Nope - not a crying kind of day

37. Why did you answer and post this? So I don't have to do anything else

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another week

I guess I'm not very good at this blogging thing as I can go many days without saying anything. I don't have the ability to ramble for half a page and be witty while doing it which may explain why I'm writing to myself. After a week of phone calls, hours on the internet and much consultation with various schedules, arrangements were made for Thanksgiving. It is going to cost a fortune and some of us will only be there for a day or so but at least we'll be in the same place for the family holiday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Holiday stress already!

Just when I was safely relaxing in the knowledge that we were staying home for Thanksgiving the phone rang. My brother-in-law just wanted to let us know that the big turkey day at their house with all the relatives is on again. "Great" my husband says as I frantically start making phone calls to the kids and looking for air fares. One already gave up her days off, the other can't get out until Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Fares are enough to make me mortgage the house or give up the summer vacation we were planning. I suppose I could put off retirement another year.

Of course, my husband says, "we don't have to go". Right. His elderly parents are flying out for maybe the last holiday together. How much of a heel would I be to say I'd rather stay home? GRRR. Breathe deeply, let go and repeat the mantra, "I love our family , I love our family, I love our family".

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's not just me

I never thought reading blogs would help me feel normal but that is what happened. I have struggled my entire life with terminal messiness. Laundry (usually clean) spills out of baskets, books and newspapers pile up everywhere, dishes may get done on a flexible schedule and the general clutter overwhelms. I've tried justifying it by saying we are so busy or we are all slobs and collectors but have felt nothing but inadequate. To compound my feelings of inadequacy I am now surrounded in my work life with women who have "perfect" homes. They live in a world where professional decorators color coordinate and place every piece and a cleaning service whisks away anything out of place. I live in fear that one of them might have to pick something up at my house and thereby discover my true nature.

Then this weekend I read several blogs from a group of women like me - women who's lives are not focused the perfect home but the struggle to balance work, family, household and creativity. I AM NOT ABNORMAL - what a freeing thought. Might it be that my secret shame is really the sign of a life well lived? I will do my best not to judge myself by the standards of others (although some days I'm better at that than others). That's not a bad way to start a new week.

Thanks to all who share yours lives and your wisdom with the rest of us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A dad's hug

My dad hugged me goodbye when he left me at the airport. Twice. The best part of every visit is seeing his smiling face waiting for me when I arrive and the hardest part is saying good bye and seeing the tears in his eyes. We celebrated the ninety years of his life this weekend and how precious any time together is. We've both made choices that led us to live nearly 2000 miles apart. I go as often as I can and call every week but the tug of guilt sometimes pains me. If I were a better daughter I would have:

1) Never left my home town
2) Been there to help him when my mom was sick
3) Visited more than once a year when the kids were little
4) Be there to help him in his old age

On my bad days that is the litany I hear in my head. He doesn't say that. There are no recriminations, no criticism (except about my weight, as always). The guilt is mine. On my good days I know he made choices. He decided to stay near his friends rather than move closer to me. He didn't come to visit much when he physically still could. Sometimes it makes it easier.

We celebrated his birthday this weekend. My son and wife came to share dinner with us. They've just moved 2 hours away from him and try to come when they can. We had cake, sang "Happy Birthday" took pictures and had a bang-up time. I took a day and cooked his favorite noodles. We reminisced about old times, old friends and family now gone. We laughed and enjoyed the few short days together

Despite the happiness, he is pensive. The weight of being ninety and knowing time is limited sometimes weighs him down. He wonders why the the opportunity for us to be together with the kids came so late. He's been alone a long time.

Life is bittersweet, a cliche, but true. I hug him goodbye knowing ever time may be the last and plan for the next visit and the smile on his face as I walk through the door.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Is today over yet?

I hate getting ready to go away. I love the actual holiday or vacation but that time before I go always seem catch me by surprise. I know I could have filled my car, gone to the bank and gotten that darn birthday card days ago but once again a book called my name. I used to think I would outgrow that ability to put everything else aside for the feel of a crisp page and a new world to explore. It never happened. It isn't that I lack discipline. I have lots of discipline at work. My children grew up with a love of books, art, theater and music and a tremendous tolerance for dustballs, unmade beds and laundry piles.

So here I am writing my blog, looking longingly at my book while all the time knowing I still have packing and planning to do. Maybe I could wait until morning. . . Maybe if I started out 1/2 hour later .. .. I forgot the cat pan needs to be cleaned. They probably won't wait until I get back Sunday night. Merry has a bad habit of using the bathtub when the cat pan doesn't meet his high standards for cleanliness. I still haven't learned how to use my new camera since I've only had it a month. I could do that on the plane except I'll probably be reading.

I see a pattern emerging here. The issue isn't really the preparation to leave it is MY ADDICTION TO READING. As addictions go, that is a pretty mild one. Just a page of two wouldn't be a problem. And somehow I do always manage to get where I'm going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Can't wait for the weekend

I am on my way tomorrow to spend the weekend helping my dad celebrate his 90th birthday. He's happy I'm coming but not so happy about the reason. He's made it clear that being 90 isn't that great but does beat the alternative. Spending time with him is a delight but makes me slow down about 10 levels which is probably for the best. I always come back relaxed and refreshed so it probably is better and cheaper than an expensive spa!