Christmas, Complete

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Christmas is OVER.

Though, to be fair, I did quite well this year, with zero meltdowns, panic attacks, or items thrown.  Even though the cooking of my dinner was disastrous.

First, the ham, which was easy, but I forgot to put the cloves on it and was kicking myself a little for dropping the ball.  Oh, but were I to know what was to come!

I discovered the “fresh” raspberries to garnish the chocolate-raspberry trifle were moldy, I then realized the cool whip for it was also still frozen.  So, after some microwaving and finding an extra jar of jam in the cupboard, I improvised the recipe into something that still tasted delicious.  Ok, I thought.  Problem solved. 

I moved on to the asparagus, the easiest recipe I have…you literally cut the ends off some asparagus, cover in Italian dressing, then bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  No problems there…had it ready to go as soon as that ham came out of the oven. 

Coleslaw.  This involves using the food processor to slice apples, a major pain in the butt.  I added too much mayonnaise and not enough honey, and everyone said it was great but I could have done it better.  I have done it better.

And then…the sweet potato casserole.

First, dad calls me and tells me they don’t have cream cheese, so I go to three 7-11’s before finally finding two bars at the Speedway on the corner.  Then, there’s no pan.  I forgot to buy a pan.  So I had to go home and get one, and also collect my sleeping husband and get him over to mother’s to help me cook.  When I got back, I realized I needed a mixer, and mom’s broke not two days earlier.  We decided we could manage with the food processor, which was already being used to slice apples for both coleslaw and now casserole.  Then we tried to open the cans of yams, to no avail, because the can opener broke.  So, it took three people half an hour to liberate the potatoes, and then finally I could put everything in the oven.

The biscuits gave me little trouble…just kind of had to wing the recipe, because when I followed it, the dough looked all wrong.  They came out pretty good after tweaking, though.

Anyway, I got high praise on the food.

And I had a lovely morning with my parents and sister too, where I got a new tablet from Mom and Dad and then Mark hooked me up with Kindle Unlimited, so I can try to get back to the reading thing this year, my only “resolution.”  But that’s New Years talk…today we’re doing Christmas.

Overall, it was pretty good, despite the cooking catastrophes, and I weathered the storm quite nicely.  I hope you managed to make it out of Christmas in one piece as well.  Now let’s all take a break for a few days until the next major holiday.

Presents and Presence

So…what didja get for Christmas??

That was my favorite question to ask my cousin Katie on Christmas morning.  I would call her and we would expound upon our gifts for a while before going off to enjoy them. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Now, I know gift-giving is not the most important part of the holiday but c’mon, let’s be real…it’s probably the most fun.

I love getting gifts!  And, I love giving them, even more.  My favorite is when you find the perfect thing for the perfect somebody and can surprise them on Christmas morning.  We have a running joke/competition in our family: make mom cry on Christmas.  Which of us (me, Bernie, or Mark) can dissolve her into tears?  This year Bern won with a paint set…then…a tie!!  Mark got her with a bottle of her cousin’s favorite scotch, evoking many memories.  Me, I got her a coffee maker so I wasn’t expecting to win, but she was very pleased with it. 

Right before Thanksgiving I was at Kevin’s house.  For the new reader, Kevin is my brother-from-another-mother, and I have literally known him my entire life.  We were discussing Christmas.  Kev is kind of hit or miss about the whole thing.  He loves Christmastime, but he loathes gift=giving.  He never knows what to get someone.  Conversely, he hates accepting gifts, because he either ends up not liking or not needing them, then he feels like an asshole and hangs on to the whatever forever, feeling guilty about throwing it away.  I can see his point of view, but I am of the opposite, and swore to him that I would teach him the meaning of gift-giving this holiday season.  He scoffed.

I went on a mission the next morning to find a gift for him, something he both would need and want.  Something I knew about Kev all these years is that he hasn’t had a proper wallet in some time.  He finds them bulky.  He keeps his cards and cash wrapped in a rubber band in his pocket.

I decided to hunt for a money clip.  Something small and sleek that he could use instead.  Then, I found it…a black and silver clip with an imprint of a wolf howling at the moon.  The wolf is totally his spirit animal, so there it was.  I purchased it and waited for it to arrive. 

Two weeks went by before I realized it was lost somewhere in California.  I got an email that Amazon would replace or refund it.  I looked everywhere for another matching one…no luck.  Panic.  And then…it came.  No tracking info listing its arrival, there it was in the mailbox one morning.  Christmas miracle.

We usually do a little dinner after Christmas and exchange gifts but his mother wasn’t feeling well earlier this month so we weren’t sure if we would.  So, I gave him his present early.  And he loved it.  He immediately transferred some of his stuff from the rubber band and put it in his pocket.  I did it, I got him something he would want and need.

But then that punk gave me a fake winning lotto ticket as a gift and I almost killed him.

A few days passed.  Kev called and said he picked up a little something for me.  He didn’t sound super sure of himself, like he wasn’t sure it was an acceptable Christmas present.  Of course, he could have given me anything (except that joke lotto ticket) and I would have been thrilled.  His mother was feeling better, so dinner was on, and he would bring it then.

So last night found me opening a brown paper bag (his idea of wrapping) and discovering…a Bob Ross Chia Pet. 

When I was a kid my friend Christina and I watched Bob Ross a lot. We thought he was great, with his “happy little trees.”  I always liked him.  Plus, I’m a gardener.  And, I saw this in the store and totally wanted to buy it because in my mind this is the most logical Chia Pet since the sheep.  So, really, he knocked it outta the park.

And so, Kevin learned of the joy of gift-giving and receiving.

For Christmas, I got a Bob Ross Chia Pet.  I also got some other cool stuff, like waders for fishing from my momma, the below sweatshirt from my father, and perfume that smells like our trip to the Bahamas from my sister.  Hubs didn’t do special this year, just resourceful…pots and pans and Spotify.  It was a lovely Christmas.  We had dinner with my aunts and Gram, and this past Saturday we did Kiddo Christmas.  Everyone loved their gifts.  I gave L and E their own fishing poles, and E scored an awesome handmade tablet cover from her father.  K got ALL the jewelry to fill her new jewelry box, and M walked away with Doom: Eternal for the PS4.

But that Chia Pet? The kinda silly but definitively thoughtful gift I got from my best friend of 37 years?

That one holds the special place in my heart this year.  Good job, bud.  Good job.

A Corona Christmas

Ok, first of all if you haven’t seen the cute thing I did to my website, please go click over there for a second.  I’ll wait.

See it?  That took two days and a half hour in a support chat.  Anyway…

Christmas is tomorrow.  I used to hate Christmas, and I really don’t know why.  It has always been the hardest part of the year for me, and still is, but the difficulties have lessened with time.  You would think it was because of the horrible Christmas in 2006 when my aunt Ka died, but no, this dislike started long before that, around the time I realized Santa was a sham.  But little things held me…like doing the whole Xmas thing for my sister when she was born in ’96.  I was 13 and already jaded about the holiday, but she made it fun again.  Then one day my therapist suggested I come up with a tradition to do each year that I could look forward to.  I think she meant like go buy yourself an ornament or make a special cookie, but I went all out and started cooking Christmas dinner every year for my family.  With the exception of the dinner during which Ka slipped into a coma, it has always been a joyous affair.

But that is nothing compared to Christmas Eve.

I have never had a Christmas Eve celebration without my Gram.  Every year she throws a party (save one year when she had back surgery and my aunt and uncle threw it instead.)  It is the best party of the year, as EVERYONE shows up.  My Gram has nine children, almost all of whom have kids, and some of those kids have kids.  Not to mention the cousins.  It’s an event, and one I anticipate every year with great joy.

Alas., Covid.

Now., first of all, my family knew that this year, Christmas was going to suck.  We knew it on March 16th, when my Poppa died.  It just won’t ever be the same, no matter how you spin it.  But then, another wrench thrown into the plans as a pandemic forces us apart.  My poor Gram

That’s all I can think of.  My Gram.

My other grandmother, Lois, died when I was 7.  She lived with us, and my Grandma Pat (henceforth and forever, just Gram) lived on the other side of town, so I didn’t see her much.  I do remember though that after Lois died, Gram became a little more present in my life…or maybe I just started developing more memories of her.  Either way, she was there, and I was grateful.  Especially after so hard a loss.

And now she has had probably the hardest loss of her life, her husband of damn near 70 years.

And, she has to cancel her Christmas party.  I would be beside myself.

So, this Christmas Eve looks very different, and it is the first one on which I will not be seeing Gram.  I am comforted by the fact she is coming to my dinner however, which is a much smaller affair than years previous, when I would invite anyone who didn’t already have plans. 

Usually, at this time on this day, I am rushing to finish last minute details.  But there are no cookies to bake this year.  The gifts have been purchased and wrapped for almost a month.  Cards sent some time ago.  I had much time on my hands this Christmas, so I got ahead of myself.  Now, all I have to do today is prep a casserole and make a coleslaw.  Then tonight I will be going to my parents to have a Christmas drink with them.  Then home, to bed, to anticipate the following day.

I think the reason I don’t dwell on the death of Ka on Christmas anymore is because of my family.  Not just my Gram, whom I adore, but my aunts and uncles and cousins who I get to see each Christmas, and it takes me back to when we were kids again.  But my family…they are the ones that were there when Ka left.  Take my aunt Mary…the night Ka died, she was right there, holding my hair back as I threw up my gourmet Christmas dinner at the news that Ka would be leaving us.  She stepped into that aunt role even deeper after Ka died, in the same way Gram did after Lois passed.  Or my cousin Katie.  We were best friends as kids, and grew apart in some ways, as people do when they get older.  But the night Ka died, she took Bern to her house and let her spend the night…she was there for my sister when I could not be.  These are just two people out of like 45, each of whom I have a story about illustrating their love.  I will miss them tonight.

But I look forward to tomorrow, which I something that in my youth I dared not dream of.  I look forward to opening presents with my parents and sister and husband.  I look forward to cooking dinner for Gram.  I’m even looking forward to my Christmas outfit, complete with…makeup!  Gasp!  (I gave up makeup for Corona the way you give up chocolate for Lent.)

Anyway, I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. Hold the people you love close to you, even if they are a world apart at the moment.  Love with your whole heart, and hope for a better tomorrow.

PS 920 words.  My finger is killing me.

Winter Solstice

Let’s see how many words I can do before my pinky gives up.

There’s this popular thread on Twitter right now from a Muslim man who is stuck here due to the pandemic and celebrating his first Christmas.  He had some observations.  It was really interesting and amusing to me.  Then I read a blog by a Muslim woman who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but loves everything about it.  Also fun, because she’s from Britain. and they have a few different things going on than us Yanks. Then I texted Sahar, my Muslim best friend, and asked what her deal was with Christmas…she always celebrated, as it turns out, so she wasn’t particularly useful to the conversation.  (Sorry, chica.)

Anyway, this got me thinking, as things do.  I grew up in a mostly white, mostly Christian community.  Christmas was a given, in every single way.  Here are some totally normal things from childhood: dragging an actual real tree into your house.  Staying perfectly still while dressed as Mary during a live nativity scene.  Knocking on doors and singing at people.  Accepting cookies from damn near strangers. 

All totally normal.

Now, I myself have always loved the topic of religion in every form, and I absorb material about world religions.  Each concept fascinates me.  But I wasn’t exposed to much growing up where I did.  I knew one Jewish girl-and she was a friend of a friend.  That’s how hard it was to come by a non-Christian.  And Muslim?  Forget it.  Title of first Muslim I knew goes to Sahar at age 16…only 2 years after I learned what a Muslim even was.

Totally normal thing from my childhood: not telling your kid other religions exist.

Now, Jews I knew, without knowing them.  I got pretty much every bible story ingrained in me from the time I was born, and Jews were featured prominently.  As a child, I thought they were kind of our allies…brothers and sisters who worshipped the same God, but held differing beliefs over who His Son was.  I thought this was a sensible disagreement.  I remember some kids being all “Jews killed Jesus!” and I never understood that line of thinking because did not Jesus say “forgive them, for they know not what they do?”  So, as a Christian, shouldn’t you just…do what he said?

In Religion class one year (because that was a totally normal thing: 40 minutes of bible study each day for a 1st grader,) we learned about Chanukah.  It seemed so fun!  Candles, and a game called dreidel, and 8 FLIPPING DAYS of presents.  I liked the story about the oil in the lamp, too, so I didn’t really get why we Christians weren’t doing Chanukah.

This kicked off that world-religion love, but my favorite part has always been other religious (and cultural) holidays.  My favorites are the Hindu’s Diwali and the El Dia de los Muertos for Spanish-Catholics. 

Then, high school, and Sahar, and a whole world of culture and art and religion and food that was hidden from me.  Wow.

It’s so funny to think that once upon a time my friend Meg told me her friend was Jewish and I thought “gee, that’s really neat.”

Today is the Winter Solstice.  It really kicks off the holiday, in my opinion, which should not be celebrated for a whole month and a half (says she who put the tree up early this year.)  My friend nick celebrates today, as he is Wiccan, despite being raised in the exact same Catholic classroom as me.  When he told me his intentions to leave the church, I was still very much in it and was concerned for his immortal soul and whatnot.  Now that I’ve managed to wash most of that Catholicism out of my hair, I can see with a much clearer eye that he went to what practices spoke to him, and that’s awesome and empowering.  So today is his “Christmas,” so to speak, and I keep him very close to my heart on the first night of Winter, even though we are literally a country apart. 

I don’t say Merry Christmas unless I know that person is Christian; I say Happy Holidays.  You can call me a liberal hippie all you want.  But there’s like a dozen holidays in December alone, and even though Christmas is the loudest solo artist out there, it’s not the only voice in the choir.

Now, I don’t know what Christmas Eve is looking like, so I may or not blog on Thursday.  If I do not, then a very Happy Holiday to you and yours, whatever it is you are celebrating.

Oh oh oh!  To my atheist friends: hope you have a chill Friday.

787 words…a little better, day by day.

She’s an American Girl

I wrote a little while ago about how losing my Barbie dolls was the end of my childhood.  Today, as Christmas approaches, I am thinking again of toys.  This time, it is a different sort of doll. 

Barbies of my day were fashion icons and pioneers of girl power, which was cool.  However, there was one doll that rose up above all the rest of those Barbies and baby dolls, one doll who stood up and eschewed fashion and make-up and didn’t need a bottle or a bath.  One doll to rule them all:  the American Girl Doll.

In 1986, the Pleasant Company released a line of dolls from historical eras, complete with a series of books and a wild array of accessories.  The first three released were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly.

Now, I read all their books, (plus Addy’s, the first African-American doll they released in 1993.)  Loved them all.  But…I loved Samantha most.

I first learned the value of a dollar when I asked for her for Christmas.  She had a hefty 80$ price tag.  It was maybe 1991. I don’t think I would buy the girls an 80$ doll today, let alone back then.  My parents pretty much laughed at me.

So when Christmas Eve rolled around and I opened my big gift from my aunts and uncles, I was certainly not expecting to get both Samantha and her Christmas outfit.  There is a very pleased picture of me somewhere. (I found it!)

Anyway, Samantha’s time period was 1904, so I, as a budding bookworm, became fascinated with the turn of the century and consumed her books overnight.  For several years, I dressed her up in her Christmas outfit and brought her to the festivities at my Gram’s house, and I often got new trinkets for her from my aunts and uncles.  Then someone started buying me the other books.  I didn’t really want another doll, except maybe Molly (side note, my sister got her,) but I did discover an enjoyment of historical fiction and wanted to read all the books. 

Eventually, Samantha’s hair started falling out when I brushed it.  Then her arm fell off.  American Girl has a doll hospital, and I considered sending her there, but somehow she ended up in the basement, forgotten until the day we moved out of the house when I was in my early 20s.  She was a little moldy by then. The hospital couldn’t save her.

I’m still sad about it.

But, fast forward to now. 

American Girl has made many changes over the years, some I enjoyed-like dolls that look like you and differently-abled dolls.  Some decisions I didn’t like, such as the DISCONTINUATION OF SAMANTHA.

Now though, this year, they have released their newest and “youngest” doll-Courtney.  From 1986.

I want her.

No…I want her books.

I tell Sahar and she directed me to the AG website, where both doll and book are for sale.  I read the description…Courtney is a girl living in the 80s who really enjoys video games, but gets bullied for playing them because she’s a girl.  Um…yes, please.  It went on to say that the book includes a “historical ‘looking back” section.  …Excuse you. 

Anyway, Sahar then texts me and tells me the book will be at my house on Saturday and Merry Christmas.  So I won’t be getting this awesome 80s brand doll, but I will be reading her story, which has always been the best part of the American Girl experience for me.

Seriously though…someone tell me the moment they bring Sam back for a limited release.  Make it happen, American Girl.

Me with Sam. Plus my cousin Katie and my dad.

It takes time.

Thirteen years ago, on the day after Christmas, my aunt Ka died.  It was sudden and unexpected.  She suffered a brief illness and then swiftly was gone, and it broke my heart.

On Saturday night, as Mark was showering and getting ready to go to my family Christmas party, I received word that his favorite aunt had passed, suddenly and tragically.  I had a few minutes with the news myself before he came out of the bathroom, and I struggled with what to say to him.  I remembered the morning after Christmas, 6am, when Sharon (my other mother) came in the door to find me sleeping on the sofa.  Mom was bereft.  Sharon was the one who told me Ka was gone.  She barely needed to say anything, really.  I already knew.  In the same way that my husband already knew when he came into the bedroom and I said “you need to call your mom.”

Mark went to the party anyways, and I don’t know how he did it.  He did pull me aside at one point and tell me that K seemed particularly sensitive to his feelings…she knew.  She was sitting beside me when he mother texted.  She made sure he got a hug every twenty minutes.  In the morning, we went to Tim Horton’s and she ordered two cookies.  I was about to give a heavy mom-speech about sugar when she turned to me and said “peanut butter are dad’s favorites.  That will cheer him up.”

I expected Mark to check out from life for a day or so as that is his usual MO when someone dies, but instead he went hard on the Dad thing.  He woke up and played video games with the girls, then put up their new beds and helped them set up their room.  He picked out a menu for a dinner they could make together, and we went to the store to get ingredients.  We returned to him watching the Bills game, and inviting Kevin over for dinner.  He then proceeded to make some amazing spaghetti and meatballs, and then whipped out the Monopoly board.  He tried to go to sleep early but couldn’t, so we ended up staying up late watching Knives Out (great flick) and then I went to bed.  I awoke this morning to find the whole house asleep…STILL asleep actually, it’s now almost noon.  So, I can only assume they stayed up watching movies after I went to sleep.

Mark said to me at one point that he just wanted to have a good weekend for his girls, and wanted to deal with the grief afterwards.  So of course, I expect some sort of meltdown at some point, but I don’t think it will be that bad, honestly.  I think that having his daughters around for this shocking and sad thing has really helped him.  We hardly ever have just the two of them, but I think the universe knew that’s who Mark needed right now and made it happen.  He would call this nonsense, but I have enough belief in the spiritual for the both of us. 

I was really sad on Saturday night.  I cried at the party maybe three times, and not because of his aunt, whom I have never met, but my own, whom I miss terribly.  Usually I function with the idea that she is away on a long missionary trip to the Philippines or something.  Sometimes the delusion wears thin, and that’s when the tears come.  Still, I think of everything she did for me, and everything she wanted for me, and how much she loved me, and I feel at peace.  But that took time.  I hope Mark gets there-I know he will.  But, it will take time.

Everything does.

Christmas Recap

Well, Christmas came and went in a flurry of activity.  First, we went to my Gram’s for our yearly Christmas get-together for the whole family, which is large to say the least.  My anxiety was a little peaked and I wasn’t really able to eat anything so I very fidgety and in and out of the house all night.  We left a little early, and then I tried to sleep but couldn’t.  I don’t know how much I actually slept, but I was up and ready to go by 7:30, and we went over to my mother’s house to exchange gifts.

I was totally spoiled this year.  Hubs got me an air fryer.  Mom gave me an antique typewriter and a smoothie maker.  Bern got me a bunch of Betsey Johnson stuff.  Dad got me a new Stephen King and a recording of me and my Grandma Lois playing nail salon when I was seven.  That last one really made me cry.

It was a good Christmas morning.

In the afternoon I cooked dinner.  I made ham I couldn’t eat but everyone said was the best one yet.  I made apple bacon coleslaw, Italian asparagus, cheddar biscuits, and what I think was the best sweet potato casserole yet (that I could eat.)  For dessert, I made a traditional English trifle.  It was all delicious.  It was all exhausting.

By 8pm I was in my new Christmas jammies and sitting on the sofa under the Sherpa blanket I got from my sister.  I watched a little television and then fell asleep.  This morning I awoke to a mess, like Christmas whipped though my house and tore it apart.  I expect to spend most of the day tidying.  But first…I’m going to make a cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet for a little bit.  I haven’t really had much of a break since last Thursday, so I intend to savor today.

Next up on the holiday agenda is my parent’s Christmas party on Saturday, then the dreaded New Year’s Eve.  I would like to celebrate in some fashion, but no one has parties anymore and I’m not about to go to the ball drop again.  We went one year and it was cold and expensive and terrible.  I prefer to watch it on TV, thank you very much. 

Anyways, I’m off to find that cup of coffee and maybe curl up under my blankie and watch a movie before I tackle the wreckage left from Christmas.  May your coffee be hot and your presents be thoughtful. 

Kiddo Christmas

When I was young and I thought of the few kids I knew whose parents were split, I often felt a little bad for them at Christmastime.  I had it in my head that their Christmases couldn’t be as good as mine because they didn’t have both parents with them on the day.  I grew up thinking the nuclear family was “normal,” thus assuming any differential was “bad.”

Kids, right?

Anyway, it wasn’t until I was a fully formed adult that I saw this from an entirely different perspective.  I started dating a man who had four kids.  We moved in together, and for the first year his kids would be getting two Christmases.  I was terrified about everything.  What if they saw though those cheap knockoff toys we could barely afford?  What if they didn’t like my cooking?  What if they felt weird around my parents?  What if they missed their mom?  None of my fears were warranted.  They loved the toys and the food and my family.  No one asked for mom, likely in the same way no one asked for dad three days later when they were back home.  If they have taught me nothing else these past 9 years, it is this: live in the moment.  Love the person you’re with as hard as you can, and don’t worry about tomorrow.  

M tells me he doesn’t really recall much of Hubs and their mother being together.  He was only 5 when they split.  The others remember almost nothing, especially K who was only 10 months when we first met.  So, for them, two Christmases is “normal.”  It makes me think back on my preconceived notions of childhood.  It makes me reevaluate the idea of family that was ingrained in me from birth. 

This weekend was Kiddo Christmas.  My parents and sister came over and we had a little party.  We had snacks and drinks and presents galore.  My theme for Christmas this year was “take a freaking shower.”  Everybody got a towel, body wash, loofah, deodorant, and body spray.  We got four kids in the throes of puberty and I will not tolerate a stinky child.  They also got tablets from the aunts and uncles, cases for them from Bern, and headphones from their father, amongst other goodies.  I’ve heard no complaints. 

This morning the boys are playing Call of Duty on the PlayStation.  E is listening to music on her tablet and K is coloring wither new gel pens.  Everyone is happy and getting along, and it makes me glad that this is the way I start my Christmas season every year.  It also makes me chuckle at my former naiveté, when I was little and thought that a family came off an assembly lime like one of Santa’s toys.  The new “normal” is beautiful according to me.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas Crunch

Today is Tuesday.  I don’t normally write my blog on Tuesday, but I didn’t update Monday so I’m feeling a little out of the loop.  I won’t update until Thursday, and it may take me three days to actually write this as I don’t have a lot of material in me right now, but alas here we are.  It is Tuesday, and I am depressed.

I would assume it’s my usual Christmas season depression, but it’s not.  It’s something a little deeper, because I was in and out of the ER over the weekend and that has of course scared the bejesus out of me. 

I haven’t missed a Christmas, but I’ve come close.  One year, I left the ER and went straight to the festivities at my Grams house on Christmas Eve.  It was not ideal.  Another year I missed my parents annual Christmas party AND Christmas with the kiddos because I was admitted to the hospital.  That broke my heart.  I am determined to stay well for the next two weeks, even if it means I eat nothing but yogurt and instant breakfast from now until then.

I am also depressed because money is tight, as it always is at Christmastime, because I want so badly to give the kids everything they want and more, and then we overdo it every year, and then spend the week of Christmas living off leftover cookies and ham.

I am also depressed because we really wanted to get the girls bunk beds up this past weekend but I was laid up the whole time.  I will be giving them the hardware for a Christmas present, and Mark will put them up on Sunday probably, but it would have been nice to have them up when they arrive on Friday. 

And then there’s all the other things that need to be done, the day to day cleaning that has been untouched since last week, the preparations for kiddo Christmas this Saturday, the shoveling and the gift wrapping and the trip to the post office…all things I don’t want to do right now.

So, there’s a lot that’s got me down today.  I’m going to try to get some things accomplished, as much as I can, and hopefully when I check in tomorrow, things will be going better.

Wednesday came and went on a wave of morphine.  Up sick at five, I was at the ER by seven, and after that everything is a blur.  My father came and drove me home and I went straight to sleep.  When I woke, I was so groggy that I went to call him to tell him I was home from the hospital, completely forgetting he was the one that brought me there.  Mark came home and we watched tv and I went to bed early.  Nothing was accomplished.

Today I am not sick.  Today is Thursday, and it is nearly 8am, and I am so happy because I feel good.  I wish I had a car available to me so I cold knock out all the errands that need to be done, but other than that I’m ok.  I’m not depressed.  I wrapped the gifts.  Hubs got a little surprise bonus, so that eased the money worries and the kids will get a very nice Christmas plus we won’t have to live on leftovers.  I have my cards ready for the post office, I have my presents all done for my family (save the one I am making…but that is close to completion) and I have the whole day to work on cleaning the house, which is more cluttered than anything and shouldn’t even take too long.  Best of all, what keeps the depression at bay, is that I feel good today.  It gives me hope.  I spend a lot of time being terrified of my weird stomach disorder.  It’s not even a matter of gastroparesis now, it’s a whole other thing.  But that’s an entry for when I have learned a little bit more about it.  Look for it in January, when they put Botox in my stomach.  I don’t know what that means yet, but they’re doing it, so I’ll be sure to find out.

Anyway…happy Thursday.

The Morning After

For more than a week, I had no voice.  My husband gave me a slight cold, which tore through our house quite quickly but left me with a severe case of laryngitis.  My voice was nothing more than a squeak for several days, hindering my communication abilities.  This, of course, was agony.  I’m a chatty gal, first off, and I am also an opinionated one, so I have something to say nearly every moment of the day.  The silence was deafening.  I was desperately scared I would be sick for Christmas, struck down by a little bug that most people can recover from easily but wreaks havoc on my weakened immune system.

In the end, it wasn’t the cold that took me down, it was the stomach, of course.

When the ER doc told me he was going to admit me, I was furious.  He left the room, and I stared up at the ceiling, thinking about the dinner I had to cook, the family I was supposed to see, the gifts for my father…no.  Not today, Satan.  I started to cry, and someone heard me.  I never saw his face.  It was dark in my room, and he came in and closed the curtain behind him.  He sat on a stool and asked what was wrong.  I told him it was Christmas, and I didn’t want to be admitted.  I told him I knew my body, and that I was going to be ok, but I felt that the doctor wasn’t listening to me, as so many doctors in my life don’t.  I told him I had food to cook and family to see and that I couldn’t bear to put my mother back in this hospital on Christmas Day.  He said something about my insurance; he wasn’t covered on it, or something, but he promised not to charge me for our talk.  Then he left.  A few minutes later he came back with a discharge sheet.  He told me the risks of me leaving the hospital, and I told him I was well aware.  Then he had me sign the paper, and he left.  I never saw his face.  I never learned his name.

A nurse came in and told me I could leave.  I went home and showered, washing the hospital germs off of me.  I put on my Christmas outfit, and I went to my Gramma’s, where I have been every Christmas Eve of my entire life.  The next day I woke up and exchanged gifts, then made a delicious dinner.  I went to bed at 9:15 and slept for 12 hours.

This morning, I got my voice back.

This wasn’t my best Christmas.  It wasn’t my worst, either, which will likely never be topped.  This Christmas was a little bit of a miracle for me, though.  I had an angel in that hospital.  I had a miracle when I woke up Christmas day and didn’t feel sick.  And it certainly is wonderful to have my voice back.

Last night my Gramma made me promise to relax today, which I will definitely try to do but look, I’m already at the computer.  And my house looks like a Christmas cyclone hit it.  But I will take my time and not worry, because I have done enough stressing and rushing in the past few days.  To be honest, it’s probably what made my stomach act up.  Anxiety is half the battle, always.  Today though, I will take some time and take care of myself, which is something I don’t do very often.  I urge you to do the same, and find a way to recover from the holiday whirlwind.  Maybe it’s over for you…me, I’ve only got a couple days break before another Christmas party and New Year’s.  Still, find a moment for yourself, to count your blessings at this time of year.  We are all blessed somehow.  Recognize it.