Sunday, November 27, 2011

Angels Don't Just Grow on Trees

While in Hometown for the holiday weekend, we were out shopping.  Yes, it was on Black Friday but surprisingly it wasn't to get any of the Black Friday deals which all actually happened on Thursday night anyway.  So, we go to Wally World and I was thrilled to see that they had an angel tree in the front of the store.  An angel tree, for those that don't know, is a Christmas tree decorated with slips of paper.  Each slip of paper has the name, age and gender of a child in need on it.  You are supposed to pick a slip off of the tree and buy an age and gender appropriate toy for that child.  There are usually collection boxes around the tree.  I love doing the angel tree and it is something they don't really seem to do here in Suburbia.  I love helping those in need especially at Christmas time.  But I also make an attempt to handle my philanthropical giving on my own and not rely on charities, especially when it comes to one group - military families.  Don't get me wrong,  I'm not unpatriotic.  I appreciate all that our service men and women do for me and our country.  I just have a problem because at one point I was part of a needy military family. I even had to do Christmas by myself while my spouse was deployed.  Nobody, I repeat NOBODY, from any charity ever asked if we needed help.  Nobody offered us food or toys for our child.  Nobody even checked to make sure that I was okay handling the holiday alone as a single parent.  Holidays were hard.  Being away from family was difficult.  We managed to scrape by and our child always had presents to open on Christmas morning and there was always a holiday meal to feast on but it was usually the work of creative financial planning and going without other things that made it possible.  Could we have sought out charities and begged for a hand-out?  Yes, but there is this thing called pride that seems to get in the way.  I'm not saying people should not give to charities that benefit the military families.  This is just my personal experience.  What I am saying is to make sure that ANY charity you are giving to is actually doing what you think and they claim they are doing.  Or better yet don't rely on some corporation, even if it is non-profit, to do the work for you.  If you know a family in need, offer them help directly.  Invite them to your holiday meal.  Share your home with them to provide some company.  Take them a bag of food or some toys for their kids.  It may feel ackward and they may claim not to need it but I can guarantee you they will be thankful even if it isn't directly to your face.  If everyone just took care of their friends and neighbors like family, we wouldn't need all these hundreds of charities funneling money in a million different directions and people wouldn't get overlooked and slip through the cracks.  Show your appreciation directly to our military men and women.  Include them in your Christmas card list.  Check on their families while they are deployed.  You may make a world of difference in a person's life but rely on yourself to do it - not some middleman.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pssst . . . Santa . . . It's Room 104

The saying goes "you can't go home again" and I've decided that is true for me and my family.  We will be going to Hometown for Thanksgiving and between Christmas and New Year if weather permits but we will not be going for Christmas proper.  We will be spending Christmas Eve and Day here in our own humble abode.  After chatting at length with Uncle Fantastic, I came to realize that the experience I wanted my daughter to have didn't really exist anymore.  There was no sitting around the table on Christmas Eve.  It is now done buffet style.  Not that that's a huge change but it made me realize that what I experienced as a child was my childhood, not my daughter's.  Her childhood and holiday traditions involved myself and her dad.  Just our little family of three.  We have our own Christmas Eve party where we gorge ourselves on junk food and play games and/or do activities.  (Last year it was a Wii tournament.  This year's activities are craft-centered.  Just what Hubby was hoping for!  Yeah, right!)  We have done this for years.  Why should I deny her the Christmas traditions she knows just to try to relive my past.  I don't know if they even break the small sheets of blessed wafers at my grandparents house anymore and well, she's too old to crawl under the table when she's finished and tickle everybody's feet.  Besides, the dog does that now anyway.  She needs to stay rooted in her norm - our traditions.  Next year, she may be off to college and coming home for Christmas and that home will be here in Suburbia, not back in Hometown.  This IS her Hometown whether I want to accept that or not.  She grew up here.  This is what she knows.  So while I will be sad for a moment missing another Christmas Eve with my family, I will embrace the fact that I will be having Christmas Eve with My Family.  Besides, how does Santa know what hotel room number you're in anyway?  Not a risk I want to take.   :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Child Endangerment: The New Way to a Thinner You

I saw something the other day that made me scowl.  It was a magazine cover.  No, I'm not a Ryan Gosling fan miffed because Bradley Cooper was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine - although I do have to say, I whole heartedly agree with People.  It was a cover picture of Mariah Carey.  The text was something about her losing like, oh I don't know, 70 pounds or something after having her babies a few months ago.  Ok everyone.  Calm down.  This is not the feat you think it is.  Glad you have your pre-baby body back Ms. Carey but do you really think this is cover story worthy?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm happy for her.  I just don't understand why this is amazing.  She has a personal chef to cook her healthy meals, she has a personal trainer to guide her body sculpting, she probably has a nanny to watch her kids while she does all of this and without a rigorous 9 to 5 job, she has the time to do it all.  What I really want to see is some nobody on the cover of a magazine.  Some mom who has three kids and lost 70 pounds while only finding minimal time to workout and being forced to eat fast food due to time and financial constraints.  Now that would be a story.  Make it real like we women really are.  I tried losing weight after having my baby.  She was approximately 16 months old and I thought kick boxing sounded fun.  So I bought an instructional video because I didn't have the money to join a gym and/or get a personal trainer.  It went well for the first five minutes but without a nanny to watch my little bundle of joy while I was sweating my way to a thinner me, things were bound to go wrong.  My daughter thought this was a fun game and began to run rings around mommy as she kicked.  I had my timing down pretty good, kicking when she was behind me.  Then the tempo on the video switched and let's just say when a toddler receives a swift foot blow to the head, they don't particularly enjoy it.  We didn't have money to go to the ER so I spent the rest of the day cuddling her apologetically and checking her pupils for signs of a concussion.  So, I think magazines should stop making us feel inferior and start reporting on what is real.  Real problems faced by real people.  Then maybe I'd really buy them instead of just flipping through while in the check-out line.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Here Comes the Bride and the Tornadoes

Well, I got my voice back.  Most of it at least.  Just in time to run screaming into my basement away from the tornadoes we are expected to get here today.  Every November, we get one bout of severe weather.  Its like spring in the autumn.  From what the weatherman/woman says - today is our day.  I should be thankful.  With as busy as we have been lately, it is amazing that it is happening on a day where we have nothing going on.  Last week was a college visit.  This past weekend was an out of town wedding.  Tomorrow another college visit.  So I guess if I had to schedule in some severe weather on my calendar, today is a good day.  It is amazing that on Friday it was cold enough to be snowing and now its balmy enough for severe weather.  Then again we were about three or four hours north of Suburbia so I guess that could have something to do with it.  It was a nice trip.  Up on Thursday with a college stop along the way.  Wedding on Friday.  Back to Suburbia on Saturday.  A nice little getaway.  The wedding itself was beautiful.  The service just the right length of time.  The mood just light enough to be humorous yet personal and romantic.  The bride was glowing and the groom was grinning.  I have to admit I almost cried a few times.  Why am I such a sap?  We've only known the bride since she was in high school - possibly younger, I can't really remember life here in Suburbia without knowing her and her family.  So, I want to take this opportunity to say Congratulations to Marion the Librarian and her Music Man.  May you have love, laughter, and happiness through all the days of your life together.  Oh, and you make me feel old.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Oh, There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

I am in a bit of a spot here.  It involves me, hometown, family and Christmas.  See my family has some big traditions when it comes to Christmas.  From what they eat on which days to who sits where to pass out presents.  My dilemma is I would really like my daughter to get to experience these traditions.  We have never gone to hometown for actual Christmas Day proper.  We always go sometime between Christmas and New Year.  We have always used the "Santa excuse" for not coming on said day.  But I want my daughter who is now 17 to have the opportunity to experience, just once, the kind of Christmas I grew up with.  I know I can't duplicate my childhood for her but giving her a taste of what I endured . . . I mean participated in would mean a lot to me.  Not to mention my mother.  It would totally make her dreams come true to see us on December 24th and 25th.  She may get so excited she may just explode.  I don't want my mother to explode.  What kind of daughter would I be if I wanted that?  Anyway, I also have another concern.  See, my family doesn't like change.  Any kind of change at all.  If we go back for Christmas Eve/Day, this is going to throw them for a loop.  We don't have assigned seats at the table.  We don't have assigned seats in the basement for present distribution.  We just don't belong there.  I can't help feeling this way but it has been held without us for the past 16 years.  Throwing us into the mix is just asking for trouble.  A huge monkey wrench in the holiday plans.  I'm positive if I asked my Grandma she'd be thrilled to have us.  Do doubt in my mind.  My trouble is do I want to do this or not.  I don't want the drama that comes along with a large family gathering even if it is Christmas.  I think maybe I've been away too long.  Maybe I'm just remembering all the good things about Christmas and blocking out all the bad stuff and THAT is what I want my daughter to experience.  A Christmas where nobody is bitter or upset or downright angry.  Just a nice fairytale Christmas where we all sit around singing carols and drinking cocoa.  Yeah, that's not what I'm gonna get.  I guess I just have to make a decision and go with it.  The song says "there's no place like home for the holidays" but I don't know.  I am open to any advice anyone would like to share.  Let the friendly guidance commence . . . now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sign Language - How I Wish I Knew Thee

Every year, I lose my voice.  Usually it is in the dead of winter after I have had bronchitis (an annual event for me).  This year the bronchitis came early and the laryngitis is sticking around.  It has been almost two weeks with this minimal, scratchy, pathetic excuse for a voice and I am fed up.  I can't do anything.  I can't talk to anyone.  This includes asking questions and engaging in poite conversation - even when shopping!  I can't go through a drive-thru because they can't hear my order.  I can't even talk on the phone.  You never quite realize how important something is until its gone and my voice definitely falls into that category.  I never realized just how important the telephone is until I couldn't use it anymore.  I can't do all those little businessy things around the house that need to be done.  I keep sending Hubby to work with a list of places that need called for reservations, cancellations, questions, answers, and all that fun stuff.  He's a good sport but I can tell he's about as fed up with my voice being gone as I am.  When I do speak, it comes out in a squeeky sort of raspy almost non-audible sound.  It is usually accompanied by massive amounts of coughing.  Fun.  I've been drinking tea.  I've had the chicken soup.  I've gone long periods of time without attempting to talk thus letting my voice rest.  I don't really know what else to do.  My mom calls me periodically to check and see if I have my voice back.  Hubby tells her "no" but its killing her that I can't talk.  Oh well, I guess I should relish the silence.  Take advantage of the peace and quiet.  Enjoy the break from my own babbling.  The thing is the little voice in my head doesn't have laryngitis.  It just goes on and on 24 hours a day without stopping.  My frustration is that I can't share anything that I am thinking.  I am stuck in my own little world.  No snarky comments.  No opinionated declarations.  Nothing.  Just me in my head - alone.  I even had to cancel an appointment with my therapist because what good is therapy if you can't talk.  It's more like a lecture and I wasn't paying for that.  So, those of you with a voice - which should be all or most of you - don't take it for granted.  You never know when you'll catch my germs and be mute like me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Great Sugar Rush is Over. Bring on the Dead and the Elves.

Wow!  I totally suck at being a blogonista!  The month of October came and went and I barely shared anything with you guys and gals.  How dare I neglect my peeps like that.  Shame on me!  Happy Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead for those of you who don't speak a lick of Spanish.  We have decided to celebrate this holiday in our house mostly for three reasons - 1) To honor the dead, 2) To have an excuse other than Cinco de Mayo to eat out at a Mexican restaurant, and 3) To create altars to honor the dead and thus (you got it) to have to shop for said materials to make said altars.  We are no way of shape remotely Spanish but any excuse to eat out and shop.  Besides, doesn't it make for a well rounded child to learn about different cultures and their traditions.  Ever though its full of skeletons and such, I like the Day of the Dead much better than Halloween.  But that's ok because Halloween is over and within seconds the Christmas decorations were up in the stores and the Christmas music blaring out of their speakers.  I love Christmas so I don't really mind.  I think that the people who complain "what about Thanksgiving" need to see Thanksgiving for what it really is: Pre-Christmas.  That's right.  It's a time when everyone in the family gets together for a big meal.  Its like practice for Christmas.  Its like a warm fuzzy reminder of all the drama you will have to endure on that holiest of nights and days.  I also think that if you wait until after Thanksgiving to put up your decorations and go all Christmas everywhere, you don't have enough time to enjoy your efforts.  Put up your decorations and do your shopping before Thanksgiving so that come the actual Christmas season, all you have to do is flip a switch and sit back and enjoy your eggnog.  Otherwise, you are rushing to get everything up and everything done and by the time you are finished, it is time to take it all down and pack it all away again.  Totally not worth it!  So I shrug off the fact that we got zero trick-or-treaters this year and pull out my Christmas cards.  I've started my shopping already because its the most wonderful time of the year!  P.S.  Just in case you didn't know, Santa is just like me.  He has OCD too.  He makes a list AND THEN checks it TWICE!  Man, I love Christmas!