This week, the one sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, happens to be my favorite week of the year.
Why, you ask? Because the Christmas season always gives me long lasting warm fuzzies. I’ve rested, laughed, played, ate well, got new things to enjoy. I’ve gotten to speak to the people I love the most (by phone or video chat). There’s no more frenzied planning for another year. NYE is a week away, so that’s something to look forward to, even if Hubs and I have no major plans. Work is more chill too.
Essentially, I’m more relaxed during this particular week. I feel more thoughtful, more grateful for the sweet life Hubs and I have created over the past 30 ish years. My head is in a space where I’m contemplating the future; though with no great sense of urgency. I’m kicked back, fuzzy socked feet upon our coffee table, relishing the present and pondering the future.
This pondering includes what my New Year’s resolutions intentions might be. The intentions I may have for this great blogging adventure I embarked on almost two years ago (I must refrain from over-analyzing the “dud” posts I’ve penned in that time which very well may have kept me from having more followers). The intentions I have for my personal life (staying in better touch with friends and family near and far, the myriad of home improvement projects Hubs and I want to make, travel-both in the U.S. and abroad, and of course, like every other slob out there, losing a good 10 lbs, give or take). The intentions I have in my work life (improve communication, my organizational skills, increase my education on such things as aging and food insecurity in the U.S.). My intentions re: my spiritual journey (how I can better live out my faith and follow Jesus’ examples).
Note that I am not calling any of the above “resolutions”. That simply puts too much pressure on me. The term is too concrete, too demanding to be part of my inner vernacular. If 2018 has taught me anything, it is that life is gonna do what life is gonna do. Curveballs will occur. Jobs may change, people will die, unexpected setbacks will emerge. That’s the deal, folks. Like it or lump it, as they say.
My primary objective, “intention”, if you will, for this one glorious week, is to reflect. And come out swinging in the new year.
Now that Christmas is a mere few days away, and the major tasks of purchasing gifts, sending out our Christmas cards, wrapping the gifts, and sending them on their way to their hopefully delighted recipients is over, I’ve got myself a minute to reflect. To share my thoughts and feelings about this crazy and magical time of year and why I love it so.
Baking Christmas cookies and related treats is one of the few traditions I have maintained over the years. Mind you, I am no Martha Stewart (unlike an old co-worker who brought snowflake cookies to our holiday potluck that were decorated so exquisitely it felt wrong to consume them not like I didn’t anyway). I focus on simple cookies. Actually, several of them are the “no bake” kind. I think that’s a wise choice as I make a fricking ton of them. I send these Christmas treats in holiday themed tins purchased at the Dollar Store or my local thrift store to friends and family from northern Minnesota to Missouri. I shan’t ever end this tradition as at this point our loved ones expect them each and every year. I kind of set myself up for that.
But it’s all good. Baking cookies while listening to my favorite Christmas tunes puts me in the spirit. For several years, while still living in Wisconsin, I hosted a cookie baking party with 3 of my closest co-workers. The wine flowed, the kitchen was essentially destroyed, and much fun was had by all. Good times.
Then there’s the music of this season. I’m not the type to turn on the Christmas music as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a traditionalist, as I mostly prefer the classics, sung by the original artists. Though there are a few exceptions. Like this version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by “She and Him” (I will admit the video is not exactly what I expected). I’m not going to get into the controversy over this particular song and how it is “rape-y” (I don’t exactly see it that way). I was delighted when I first saw the movie “Elf” and heard Zooey Deschanel’s pure and beautiful singing voice. I was even more delighted when I discovered that there was a “She and Him” and that they had produced a sweet little cd covering classic Christmas tunes. I of course purchased this cd and enjoy listening to it every single Christmas since then. The only other two Christmas cd’s on repeat in our house this time of year are Michael Buble’s “Christmas” and the Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait”. The songs “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” always put a smile on my face when I hear them this time of year.
I’m excited that Hubs is working on “Mele Kalikimaka” on his yuke these days. With any luck, he and I will collaborate on this one and may even perform it via video for our daughter and grandson via videochat yet this season. Or next Christmas, at least.
The most arduous tasks for me during the Christmas season are 1) purchasing gifts, 2) wrapping said gifts (not my forte; thankfully Hubs has my back on this one), and 3) shipping all the packages to hither and yon. Yet, there’s such a great joy I feel inside when I find just the right gift for the right person. I don’t know that I’ll ever in my livelong life, however, create such excitement with my Christmas gift-giving as my sweet Hubs did for me one Christmas about 7 years ago. I could not have been more surprised.
Here’s the story: we are at my sister and brother in law’s house way up in northern Minnesota, where we have spent many Christmases. We are in the middle of opening all of our gifts, a tad liquored up and sitting in the cozy family room by the beautiful Christmas tree. I open the shirt sized box, assuming it’s a new sweater or some other practical piece of clothing (which I was totally fine with). However, it’s a fancy black dress. I look at Hubs a bit quizzically, and assume in my head that this is a dress I’ll be wearing for a nice dinner out with him on New Year’s Eve. Wow, I’m thinking. So thoughtful and how fun is it that he’s planning to take me out on New Year’s (that doesn’t happen every year, you see). Then I see there’s a sheet of paper underneath. I open it up and it’s an ITINERARY. An itinerary, no less, for a New Year’s weekend in Chicago! An itinerary mapping out our Amtrak train ride, dinner reservations at a very chi-chi seafood place in downtown Chicago, a fancy hotel, and tickets to see “The Adams Family Musical”. I was, for once in my life, utterly speechless. I think I actually cried with joy. It ended up being the best New Year’s Eve (weekend) of our entire married life despite the massive hangover I foolishly gifted myself.
This year, I was given the opportunity to shop for a little girl. I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in this activity since my spawn were youngins. You see, instead of doing the “Secret Santa” thing at work (you know the one-where you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for that one person you don’t know as well as all the others), someone came up with the brilliant idea of doing “Secret Santa” for the offspring of our co-workers. I grabbed a “wish list” for the daughter of one of my co-workers, and proceeded to have a ball at Target finding things for this kiddo. I suspect she will be pleased that Santa stuffed her new shiny star-shaped purse with Snickers and a $10 bill. I know I would be!
I wish each and every one of you a blessed, joyful, fun-filled holiday season. May your stockings be full with all your favorite goodies, may your travels be safe, and may your hearts be full.
It’s Tuesday morning as I begin writing this post. This is typically my favorite part of the week, for purely self-serving reasons. It’s the one time of the week when I have the house entirely to myself and I don’t have to leave for work until 9:45 a.m.
So I usually write like crazy until I absolutely must get dressed and out the door to head to work.
Up until yesterday morning, I was all geared up to write a post potentially titled “Christmas on the Brain”, because, well, I was mentally 100% focused on all the fun Christmas activities head of me in the next few weeks.
But, a phone call changed my plans.
Yesterday morning, my dear Hubs received a phone call from his mother. She told him that his brother, her oldest son, had suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to live. I cannot imagine the emotions she felt making this call.
Shortly after Hubs and I left our respective offices and arrived home, he received another call. This was from his nephew. He informed Hubs that his dad, Hubs’ only brother, had passed from this earth.
There are no words that can capture how we are all feeling at this point in time. Shock is the best I can come up with. Helplessness. Confusion. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Deep, deep sadness.
I want to figure out how exactly I can be useful here. How exactly I can be supportive of my heartbroken soulmate. How I can make things even just a little bit better, easier. How I can cushion this blow to his heart.
I will not be publishing a post tomorrow as I usually do on Wednesdays. It would feel icky. I am not the one here in need of sympathy and prayers. Hubs is. My mother in law and father in law are. My sisters in law, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews are. The man they loved and looked up to was ripped out of their lives in an instant. No goodbyes got to be said. They will all no doubt spend the rest of their lives wondering “Why?”