Reframing Things

Final post for 2020. 

Earlier this year, one day in the summer, I made some comment about Jerry Lee bulldozing my life. My mom replied along the lines of, “Why not look at it as a chance to redo your life?”

I had actually already been thinking along those lines so I didn’t take offense at the suggestion.

I suppose that’s the biggest change for me during 2020. I’m finally reframing what happened to me. I’m not always successful. It’s best if I don’t dwell on it too much, but for small moments I am able to reframe the betrayal and discard, along with the absolute destruction of everything I thought my life was.

When I do this I’m able to tell myself he didn’t blow up my life; no, I got a second chance at a much better life. Sure, there have been speed bumps- financial issues continue to stress me. My kids are in therapy. I’m working a job that isn’t all that personally fulfilling and I feel like I never have enough “me” time, or time to devote to my kids. But it’s not all bad.

I’m back in my hometown. I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s familiar. I didn’t have to start completely over and figure out how to get around the town.

Living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. She hates it when I say, “I had to move back in with my mom!” or “I don’t have a home of my own.” The reality is she does my laundry which is great because I don’t particularly care for doing laundry. She also has dinner cooked most nights when I come home. I joke with her that it’s nice to have a wife. I realize why so many cheaters don’t leave one until they have another one! I am fortunate enough to be able to spend huge amounts of time with my mom. I get to shop with her, go out to dinner with her, vent to her, and laugh with her. I have too many friends that no longer get to enjoy that with their moms.

Ever since moving back here in 2016 I have seen it as a source of shame- I was too fucking pathetic to be able to stand on my own two feet. I had to move back in with my mommy. I couldn’t take care of myself or my two children. I needed help. It’s very humbling, especially when you’ve lived in your own home for 20+ years. You go from living in a huge home to not even having your own bedroom; I slept on the couch for two years. Perhaps it’s simply the passing of time, but I no longer care. It is what it is. Living at home with her allows her to spend much more time with her grandchildren, allows me to see her all the time, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a mortgage payment or rent somewhere. It allows me to be able to do more because my money isn’t wrapped up in housing. I’m finally accepting that this arrangement works for me.

When he left finding a new relationship was the last thing on my mind. I was in survival mode and honestly, I had spent so much time alone even while being married that I had no desire to ever pair up again. I was perfectly content to be alone for the rest of my life; I was good at it. Yet, him walking out the door finally allowed me the chance to experience a real relationship, one where I’m valued and loved.

The mobster and I have an amazing time whenever we are lucky enough to get together. He is the best and I would have never met him if Jerry Lee didn’t go off and fuck his cousin.

As for finances, well, I recognize that I don’t need as much as I used to have. I don’t need a huge house. I don’t need endless baubles. I do like shopping for clothes and my closet is exploding right now but I’ve always been a sale shopper. As long as I have enough to pay my bills, take care of my kids and spoil them some, and be able to have some fun with my friends, family, and the mobster I’m good. I’d like to be able to take a vacation here and there as well, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation.

I also realize it’s up to me to make that change as far as finding a better paying job. Writing about how awful it pays and complaining does nothing. I intend to change that this coming year.

Of course, my children and their well-being always weighs heavily on my mind. Fortunately, I am finally letting go of that as well. Not as in an, “I don’t care” way, but more in an, “I can’t change the past,” way. It still tugs on my heartstrings when I hear “Best Day Of My Life” or any of the songs I associate with Harrisonburg. The overwhelming desire to scream, “Why?” is always there, but that scream is slowly fading away. I do my best to reframe it as a wonderful moment in Rock Star’s life, one that wasn’t meant to last. Maybe the lesson to be learned was that her dad is an entitled jackass. I don’t know. Maybe it was to show her she was stronger than she knew.

My son seems happy and content. The medication has helped immensely. He has friends here. He likes his job. He likes living here. Hopefully therapy will soon be a thing of the past for him, but as long as he continues to get something out of it I will pay for it. He graduates this year and no one will be happier about that than me! He’s been complaining about school since second grade. I’m tired of fighting him.

My daughter has apparently resolved all of her issues surrounding her father and his abandonment in approximately three therapy sessions. She works fast, I guess. She has decided she is done with him and she’s no longer expending the effort to have a relationship with him. As she put it, “Why am I putting in all this effort when he’s the one that left?”

Despite Covid-19 wrecking havoc with her college life she is happy. She has a solid set of friends down at college. She loves her sorority and her sisters. She has a great boyfriend who treats her like she deserves to be treated. She is kicking ass in nursing school and will be a wonderful nurse in a few years.

She has said herself that everything she went through led her to where she is. If we were still married and in Virginia, yes, I would probably see her more and she would be happily reconnecting with high school friends over break, but she wouldn’t have this life she loves.

Despite the hurdles and all the worries these last few years my kids are okay. They’re not living the life I had hoped to have given them, but they are good. As my mom always says, “You guys had a helluva run.” Yes, my kids had an awesome childhood and they got to experience a lot of wonderful things. And then they experienced some really shitty things and a lot of loss. They lost their friends twice, and lost their mother in many ways. i wasn’t there the way that I wanted to be; I did the best I could with what I had and I hope in the end that proves to be enough. But ultimately they prevailed and they are both good and happy now. I have a great relationship with both of them, and that’s what counts.

I will never say that Jerry Lee cheating on me and destroying my old life was a blessing, or the best thing to ever happen to me. What I will say now though is he ended up giving me a second chance. He gave me the opportunity to live a much better life than the one I could have ever hoped to have lived with him. I get to frame this one. I get to choose. I can make this new life into whatever I want.

How’s that for change, 2020?

Change- The Year in Review

My word for this year was change. Boy, did I ever pick a doozy. I’m not saying my word caused the pandemic, but I’ve never actually picked a word of the year before. This was my first time and look what happened. Safe to say I don’t think I’ll be picking another word of the year again. I’ll go back to resolving to moisturize more. Floss regularly. Safe stuff.

I did choose the word “change” however so it’s only fair that I look back and see what, if any, change was made in my life. You know, aside from the whole world going to shit and being under lockdown and mask mandates.

When I picked the word I was really hoping that most of the change would happen in regards to my financial situation. As in, I hoped to either get promoted or get another job elsewhere. 

Technically, there were all kinds of changes in regards to my job. I got sent downtown to work for five and a half months. We’ve had to learn to do our jobs in a very different way because we’re not all together. I will probably never see my co-worker/partner again because she is working from home and is retiring no later than June 30th of 2021. We don’t have a lot of hope that everyone will be brought back by that point.

I did put myself out there and applied for the supervisor position. I didn’t get it but I did get exposure and I was told I’m a hidden gem. This little hidden gem had better get a new job title and a lot more money or I’m relocating to a newer mine.

I have been perusing online job postings but I haven’t seen much that excites me. I also checked out grad school but I think that is way beyond anything I can do. For starters, the deadline for one of the programs I was interested in had already passed and I would be looking at yet another year before I could start. Then there is the issue of getting transcripts, and taking entrance exams and getting referrals. Who the hell is going to write a recommendation for me? I’m not in college anymore. Do I ask friends who have jobs to write a recommendation for me? Based upon what? 

Another program would require me to do a bunch of prerequisites before I could start which would mean my two year program would probably take three or four years. Sure- I’d love to get a Masters degree at age 55 and then work for 10-12 years. I’m sure the employers would be falling all over themselves to hire me, a candidate that does not have much of a shelf life left. And no experience to boot.

I see people with no education beyond a high school diploma fall into these amazing jobs that pay well and offer great benefits. Why on earth can I not fall into one of those jobs? Why am I doomed to work a low paying job with crappy benefits?

Way back at the beginning of the year, before Covid-19 changed everything, the mobster and I made a lifestyle change. We began the Couch To 5K program. I am still running, although with the days becoming darker earlier I am not as consistent as I would like to be.

In March I began eating low carb. I say this as I’m coming off of a 5 day holiday from low carb eating. Nonetheless, at this point in the year I am somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds lighter. I say somewhere because I haven’t stepped on the scales in 2 or 3 weeks and I have no intentions of stepping on them for another 2 or 3 weeks. But, at my lowest weight so far I had lost just over 50 pounds. I believe it was 50.6 pounds. I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn in 2 or 3 years, and in the case of my jeans, they’re all too big now.

I’ve greatly reduced the amount of diet Coke that I drink. That’s a huge change for me. I started that one in May. I have my moments where I go back to it, but I’m pretty good. I certainly drink a lot less than I ever did before.

The mobster has put his route up for sale so now we’re just waiting for someone to sign the papers. After that he’ll make his way up here and we’ll finally be living in the same state! Same town even. That’s a huge change.

I made the transition to being a parent of adult children. Neither of my kids is a minor anymore. After June of 2021 I will no longer have any kids in the local school system. Picasso, God willing and fingers crossed, will graduate this June.

My mom’s dog died earlier this month. He was 15 1/2 years old. He’d been losing a lot of weight recently. My mom took him in and unfortunately he never came back home. I miss that little booger with his big underbite. She swears there will be no more dogs but we’ll see. She said that before she got him, too.

I finally got Jerry Lee garnished. Basically. It’s not through the state but he did sign an agreement which was turned into a court order whereby he directly deposits his payments into my account twice a month. He also knows that if he tries to stop it or attempts to fuck with me I’ll take his ass back to court and from there he’ll find his ass in jail. For the first time since he took off to be with his cousin back in February of 2016 I know exactly when to expect that money. It is a wonderful feeling.

Plus, my saga with Mississippi is finally over! Everything is done. It took forever- it took them more than 3 months for them to return my money- but it’s done.

Bonus- once I got my money from Mississippi I paid off my car so there’s another change for the year. No more car payment.

I got my car in September of 2014, taking out the longest loan for the smallest payment with the intention of paying it off in larger chunks with Jerry Lee’s bonus check. As you all know that didn’t work out as I had planned. I ended up with a large car payment with no job, and then a large car payment with a low paying job. But I had so many miles on it that I didn’t think I could trade it in and by the time I realized it really would be prudent to do so my credit was in the toilet, thanks to Jerry Lee and his machinations. Honestly, it was the last thing left from my old life. I wanted desperately to hold onto it. I had already lost so much- my house, my furniture, probably 95% or more of everything I’d ever owned. I was determined to keep that goddamn car. I worked my ass off to do so. Now it’s paid off. A change in circumstances, and more change in my pocket. Not really. All my additional money is going into my HSA account so I can pay for my kids’ therapy bills.

My son got a job, so both of my kids work now.

And both of my kids are being medicated for depression and anxiety. In Picasso’s case it’s a blessing because he so desperately needed it. After almost a year of counseling which didn’t help the way it needed to he’s finally on medication and it’s working very well. He’s doing things he could not have done before. So that’s a great change. Rock Star, on the other hand, is getting worse and worse, especially now that she’s on nothing while she waits to see our nurse practitioner. As you might recall the medication she was taking caused her to be extremely nauseous so she was switched over to Prozac. That caused suicidal ideations so it had to be stopped. I don’t know why on earth she didn’t prescribe her something in the meantime, knowing she has an in-person appointment in December, but she didn’t so my poor baby has been suffering through it on her own for a few weeks now.

Everything seems to stress her out. She’s this interesting dichotomy where she can be so self-assured and opinionated at one moment and then turn around and be a blubbering mess another moment. She’s back in therapy and she seems to like it, but it’s not doing enough right now and she needs to be properly medicated. She is going to call this week and see about getting some new medication.

Here’s another big change, one I’m not really ready for, but it’s happened. My daughter won’t be returning home. She plans to stay down in Muncie over the summer and work, and then when the lease is up on her house that she is renting this year, she is planning on moving in with her boyfriend. My daughter no longer lives with me. I had no idea until this Thanksgiving break.

On one hand I understand. When I came home for the summer I looked forward to seeing my friends. We went to different schools so we only saw each other on breaks and over the summer. We got to hang out, go to the beach, hit the bars, see a movie. I don’t recall what all we did. I just know it was great being home and being able to hang out with them when I didn’t see them most of the year. Rock Star doesn’t have that. She didn’t make any close friends when she lived up here. Her life is all down at school.

I also didn’t have a serious boyfriend throughout most of college. I broke up with my high school boyfriend right before coming home for the summer freshman year. I broke up with the guy I was dating my sophomore year shortly after coming home for the summer. Hmmm… doesn’t seem to be a good time of the year for me. I just saw that pattern. I didn’t have a boyfriend the rest of college. She does.

So, like I said, on the one hand I understand. I really do. But on the other hand, I am so sick of being blindsided with the last time and never knowing it’s the last time.

I didn’t know that Thanksgiving 2014 was the last truly normal holiday we would have as a family. I had no idea that Christmas 2014 was the last one we would spend together as a family of four. I didn’t realize how much my life was going to change as we left to spend 3 weeks in Indiana and Utah that first summer after we moved. I had no idea what was in store for all of us while we were having fun and spending time with family down in Florida. I sure as hell didn’t realize that August 9th, 2015 would be the last semi-normal day in my old life. I suppose those are all things you never get forewarning on.  “Hey, honey, I’m planning on cheating on you with my gold digging cousin. Enjoy your turkey!” That just doesn’t happen. But other things you sort of do think you get a heads up on.

I watched those proud parents escort their daughters on Senior Night and envisioned myself doing the same. I didn’t know as I watched my daughter at States that February day in 2016 that it was going to be the last time I would ever see her compete in gymnastics. That was it. The end. No more. No warning. No fan fare. No flowers. No big announcement. It was simply the end.

I watched as the conductor would invite all the seniors to stand at their last concert and looked forward to the day my own senior would rise and I would clap and cheer. I didn’t realize that last year’s Christmas concert was the last one I would ever watch Picasso play the cello. He abruptly quit- at the beginning of the year. Look! More change!

And I sure as hell didn’t even consider that last summer was the last summer my daughter would live with me. I thought I had 2 more summers with her. I don’t. Last summer was the last time she was going to live under my roof. 

I wonder sometimes if it’s because I don’t have a home of my own. Maybe if I had been able to buy a house she would have felt like it was her home. Then again, nothing I did or didn’t do was going to change the fact we had to move midway through high school and she had no friends here. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because she feels like I’ve replaced her and am living a new life with the mobster, a life where she’s no longer important and doesn’t really have a place.

I really enjoyed having her home over the summer after her freshman year. I loved hearing her stories and spending time with her. In some ways it was more difficult saying goodbye that second year than it was the first year. Maybe because I knew how lonely it could be with her gone.

Last summer sucked. She worked during the week and was either gone or holed up in her room with her boyfriend every weekend. I’m not available during the week because I’m working. When she worked she worked 12 hour shifts and was usually exhausted when she came home.

I guess I was hoping this summer would be better. Turns out there is no next time.

I understand this is the natural progression of things. Honestly, I do. I wasn’t prepared for it at this point, though. I thought I had more time with her. I was prepared for her to move out in December of 2022, after she graduated. I was not prepared for this.

2020 has brought with it a lot of changes. Some good; most bad. I’ll roll with it as I always do. I would pick a word like “prosperity” but it would probably turn into one of those “The Monkey Paw” things where horrible shit would happen instead of it resulting in money in my pocket. So yeah, I think I’m going to be content with trying to moisturize more and floss regularly. My dentist will be happy.

The Warm, Soft Glow of Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is to sit in the still darkness while the Christmas lights softly glow around me. There is something so peaceful about this. I think the best time to do this is in the early morning when everyone is sleeping and all you can hear are the quiet sounds of the household. I sit there quietly, sometimes reading on my phone, sometimes doing nothing, and let the feeling of Christmas wash over me.

It seems like every time I’m with the mobster we are going, going, going! We go a hundred miles an hour, trying to wring every last second out of our time together. It’s usually on that very last day or evening that we finally sit and simply take it all in. It’s kind of like those moments in the dark in front of the Christmas tree.

This year when I went down to visit him for our Christmas together we made it a point to sit on his screened in porch in front of one of his two Christmas trees and just be. We had a cup of coffee and there may have been food. I don’t remember. We looked at the lights and simply enjoyed our quiet time together. In fact, that’s where we ended up opening our gifts to one another as well.

I think that maybe what I’ve been searching for these last few years is the feeling of Christmas. The Hallmark movies I enjoy the most are the ones that show the town coming together and people enjoying traditions and time spent with loved ones. It’s the spirit of Christmas and how they show that. I don’t care about the love story. They could have an entire movie about the town’s Christmas festival and if they didn’t showcase a single romance I would not be sad at all. Sitting quietly while I watch the lights brings that feeling back to me, if only for a few minutes.

Now, in our household, all things Christmas are done. The decorations are put away. The lights will wait until next year to make another appearance. My daughter is already headed back to school. Thankfully I have the mobster’s visit on New Year’s Eve to keep the holiday blues at bay.

Now it’s on to holiday leftovers. Get ready for the New Year, everyone. 

Christmas 2020

For being in the middle of a pandemic it wasn’t a bad Christmas. You don’t always know how the holidays are going to turn out. I think Christmas brings with it a lot of pressure.

Think about it. The stores start putting out Christmas decorations in September. I’ve actually seen Christmas displays in Hobby Lobby in July. Not large displays, mind you, but they definitely have stuff out. Then you have the Christmas ads that begin to run in September. Sometimes that’s just so they can say they’ve had the first Christmas ad of the season but they are definitely appearing by early November, if not in October. You’ve got radio stations that begin playing Christmas music on November 1st. Thanksgiving is treated like a precursor to Christmas a lot of times. There’s Black Friday for in person shopping and Black Monday for online shopping.

Speaking of which, did everyone prefer the way the retailers went about it this year? I was so glad not to be overwhelmed with deals and sales that one day on Thanksgiving this year. I liked how almost all of the stores were closed for all of Thanksgiving. I was never one of those who was planning on boycotting any store that was open on Thanksgiving (I’m also not a fan of Black Friday shopping and do most of mine online) but I thought it was a lovely return to times in the past where holidays were actually spent with family instead of rushing out to begin buying for Christmas.

Anyway, there is tons of stress surrounding the holidays and trying to make everything perfect. And with this year being a year of social distancing and sickness no one was really sure how this was going to play out.

My only disappointment this year was not being able to do the cookie exchange/white elephant gift with my friends. Covid hit a little too close to home right before the holidays so that was scrapped.

I did my Christmas baking and I think I made almost a perfect amount of food. There was probably a little too much and I have definitely been eating way too much. They call it Christmas crack for a reason.

I had a lovely time in Virginia with the amazing mobster earlier in the month. We played some Pokemon Go, did some Christmas baking, opened our gifts to one another, ate some great food, and just enjoyed each other’s company for a longish weekend.

I was a little bit upset about the short amount of time my daughter was spending at home this year. She didn’t come up until the 23rd. I thought she was staying until Tuesday or Wednesday, but it turned out she was scheduled to work so she left on Sunday the 27th. It all turned out okay though. It was good having her home and we have made plans for me to go down there to see her in January.

We weren’t sure how Christmas Eve was going to play out. Our Christmas Eve gatherings used to be so large that we would have appetizers for dinner because people came and went. Many years my mom and stepfather would invite friends over on Christmas Eve. Both of my brothers and their families were present. My stepsister and her kids started coming over. It was a big cheerful bunch. 

Over the years that has changed. The friends of my mom and stepdad have passed. My stepdad passed. My one brother has not been up for Christmas in close to ten years. My niece, Florence Nightengale, hasn’t been up for Christmas since she got married last September and when she doesn’t come up, her brother doesn’t come up either. My stepsister had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Her daughter who is in grad school in Chicago opted not to come over because of Chicago’s Covid-19 restrictions. Her son and his wife had texted earlier in the week to say that they would be coming over but probably wouldn’t be staying long. My sister-in-law also worked on Christmas Eve.

It turned out to be a really good Christmas Eve though. My nephew and his wife ended up staying for several hours, and they were more talkative than they’ve been in years. Probably because they usually stick together in one little pod of four when they come together. This year they had no choice but to talk to the others.

My friend Sweet J is dealing with her crazy family so she opted to come over for Christmas Eve instead of dealing with them.

My son’s friend came by to drop off a gift for him. I asked him if he would like a plate of cookies to take home with him. He was hesitant to take it because he was dropping off gifts. I’m not sure if he thought he could only have them if he stayed and ate, but I told him I would be more than happy to fix a plate and he could take them with him. He is also friends with my nephew and said his was the last gift he had to drop off. I jokingly said, “If you’d waited until 5 he would have been over here and you could have killed two birds with one stone.” Well, that started off a chain of events that led to him being over at our house until 10:30 or 11:00 that night. He ended up staying for dinner and trying green bean casserole for the first time in his life. He sat with us while we opened gifts. I felt bad because there was nothing for him except for what my nephew had gifted him but it was pretty obvious his mom was not picking him up any time soon and we had a houseful of people waiting to open gifts.

Picasso and I pooled our money together and bought my brother a knighthood from Sealander.  Picasso asked him, “How does it feel Sir Uncle C?”

We had a feast of seven layer salad, deviled eggs, ham, Swedish meatballs, scalloped potatoes, corn casserole, broccoli, cheese and rice casserole, green bean casserole, and Texas Roadhouse rolls (yes, you can buy those suckers frozen and take them home!). There was pie but I don’t think we ever got around to eating it. We also had cheese and summer sausage and shrimp cocktail before dinner.

I got some amazing gifts, including a beautiful Mom necklace from my daughter, 2 bottles of my favorite wine from a local winery, and a giant stuffed Eevee from my son.

Christmas Day I had a full stocking. I had to have a little conversation with my kids about that because last year I was the only one without a stocking. I fill theirs and my mom’s and I had nada. But they made up for it this year. I got a huge coffee mug, another polar bear ornament (in addition to the two my mom gifted me), a wine journal, sugar free chocolate, and some gift cards.

Both of my kids loved their gifts. All of them. The gifts they opened on Christmas Eve and the ones they found on the mantle and in their stockings on Christmas morning. Picasso loved his record player and the vinyl albums he got and Rock Star loved all of the clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

I made a breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls in the morning. Queen B and my nephew (I need to give him a name- I think I’ll call him C2) came over a little later in the day to play Phase 10. My brother showed up as well.

You’ve never played Phase 10 until you’ve played it with him. He always wants to know who’s in the lead and how many points. Then he’s always sure to tell you who you should be skipping. This year he began the tradition of the Skip Box because people would forget they were skipped. Or rather, they would attempt to play when they were skipped and insist they had already served their skip. So he handed out the Skip Box. You can give it back once you’ve been skipped.

Picasso’s friend came over again because he was interested in playing Phase 10. He took my brother’s spot because he had to go back home. He and my sister-in-law were going over to the neighbor’s house for Christmas dinner.

Queen B left to go meet up with one of her friends and we ordered Chinese food for those of us remaining.

I sent Merry Christmas messages to my friends both near and far and got many back in return. Plus, I had a few video chats with the mobster and his Christmas guests.

It was a wonderful Christmas. I’m hoping next year will be equally wonderful. Maybe a little less food because we have so much left over. My mom and I both have said we are not cooking for several days.

Christmas 2020 is in the books. Time to start planning Christmas 2021.

A Question To Ponder

Editor’s Note: Obviously this was written a few days before Christmas, but the question still stands.

I know it’s all things Christmas right now, but I had this question pop into my head and it’s really been bugging me.

If Michael Myers supposedly has super human strength and is practically immortal then why doesn’t he just break out of the mental institution? Why does he always need to wait until he’s being transported on a dark Halloween night? Why can’t he just take out a few guards and walk right out to freedom any damn time he chooses? He doesn’t need to wait until a bus crashes or he’s able to steal a car.

I thought maybe it came down to being medicated but that doesn’t really work for me either. If they know they need to medicate him why wouldn’t they be sure to medicate him when they know he’s going outside the institution’s walls? That’s basic common sense right there, although I will concede it doesn’t make for a very long movie.

I’m going to get back to all things Christmas. I’ve got a quartet of Christmas in Evergreen movies to watch and I’m going to occupy myself with those. In the meantime, if any of you have an answer to my question I’d love to hear it.

Dreaming Of a White Christmas

I live in northern Indiana. I have spent the majority of my life living in places where snow is common in the winter months. I tell you this because the weather has been fairly balmy here and there hasn’t been much snow. Sometimes it didn’t feel like Christmas was right around the corner.

I frequently heard people saying they wish we could have a white Christmas. “Oh, a little bit of snow would be so nice.”

Here’s the problem with that thinking: It doesn’t go away after Christmas.

I remember one of the last Christmases I spent with my Mamaw. I have narrowed the year down to somewhere between 2003 and 2005. We were living in Michigan then and I was hosting Christmas at my house that year. Mamaw had come up and was staying with me. The grass was green and the weather wasn’t too chilly.

I don’t remember her exact words, but it was in that same vein of wanting a white Christmas and how nice it is when you have a little bit of snow at Christmas time.

She got her wish. It began snowing on December 23rd and snowed for ten days straight. I told her to never again say anything about wanting a white Christmas!

This year it started snowing late on Christmas Eve and continued snowing throughout the night. We woke to probably a good 12 inches of snow, if not more. I like to think my Mamaw is smiling down on us in Heaven. You got your wish, Mamaw; we had a white Christmas.

It’s been a good Christmas. I cannot complain. My daughter and I are off to pick up our order of Chinese takeout in a few minutes. Then I think I’m going to watch Hallmark movies while I eat. I’ve been stuffing myself and saying to hell with the “lifestyle change” during this period of the holidays.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope your day was wonderful. For those of you who may be reading and struggling, it does get easier. Hang in there; you are stronger than you think.

Christmas Always Finds Me

This is a new one. It’s new for me and it’s new for everyone. It was released in October of this year.

There is something so simple and yet so sweet about this song. I tend to really enjoy the upbeat, fast tempo songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” or Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but I love this one by Ingrid Andress.

Maybe it’s the message. No matter the age, no matter the circumstances, Christmas always finds her. She may no longer view Christmas with childlike wonder, asking for rollerskates and pixie sticks, and she may no longer be eyeing all the presents stacked underneath the Christmas tree, but the spirit of Christmas remains. 

I think this song touches me so much because it captures what I’m so desperately searching for- that feeling of Christmas.

Another year older

A little harder to believe

But somehow 

Christmas always finds me

You Make It Feel Like Christmas

I *love* this Christmas song, although I’m not quite sure it’s really a Christmas song. Gwen and Blake sing, “You make it feel like Christmas.” They don’t say it actually is Christmas. Nonetheless, it gets a lot of play time during the holiday season and it’s a special song for me and the mobster.

A couple of Christmases ago we spent a weekend at an AirBnB. We always refer to it as The Orient. It was one of our weekends where we decided we weren’t going to run around trying to do as much as possible. I think we actually went out Christmas shopping and exchanged our gifts with each other and put together stockings for our kids.

Later in the evening we listened to hours of Bill Burr’s standup specials, and we did a Christmas puzzle. We also listened to Christmas songs and this was one of those songs the mobster fell in love with. We played it over and over again.

It’s a catchy little tune. It doesn’t hurt that I can completely relate to the lyrics.

Thought I was done for, thought that love had died

But you came along, I swear you saved my life

I wanna thank you, baby

‘Cause you make it feel like Christmas

Yep, that was me. I wasn’t looking for love. I didn’t think I would ever be happy again. My life was pretty much an empty, gray, depressing void. Then the mobster came along, fell out of a tree, landed on my head, and helped me begin a new life. He really does make every day feel like Christmas.

Sweet gingerbread made with molasses

My heart skipped and I reacted

Can’t believe that this is happening

Like a present sent from God

Sleigh bells singing hallelujah

Stars are shining on us, too

I wanna thank you, baby

You make it feel like Christmas

Christmas Carols

It’s almost Christmas. I don’t feel like taking on cheaters or their minions. I would like to retain some Christmas cheer and concentrate on this most wonderful time of the year.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music a lot at work. It usually puts me in a pretty good mood. I thought I would share some of my favorites with you over the next couple of days.

The first one I’m going to suggest is one of the most recent songs I’ve downloaded. It’s “The Little Drummer Boy” by Carrie Underwood and her son Isaiah Fisher.

Ordinarily this song makes me cry a lot of times. There’s something so sweet about this little drummer boy who is meeting the baby Jesus and wants to give Him a gift. Alas, he is a poor boy, too, and he has nothing to give the baby aside from the gift of music. I don’t know why but this always touches my heart.

Carrie’s version with her son is adorable. She already has a voice like an angel. She begins the song and sings the chorus. Her son sings the parts where the little drummer boy would be talking. He has a sweet little singing voice and he can’t say his R’s correctly which makes it even more adorable.

It puts the biggest smile on my face. I don’t know how she got through that song because as a mother I would have been bawling if I did a duet like that with my cute little kid.

I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Last Weekend Before Christmas

I am exhausted. I finally have all of my Christmas shopping done. 

It shouldn’t be this difficult. I have 7 people on my list. At one point in my life I think the list was over 20. Now I have my two children, my mother, one niece and one nephew that I still buy for, the mobster, and his daughter. That’s it. And most of what I bought I purchased online right after Thanksgiving. Plus, I’ve already exchanged gifts with the mobster and his daughter. So I don’t know what the hell happened!

My mom and I went out on Saturday. I thought it was going to be a quick trip but it turned into several hours. First stop was the mall. That was probably my first mistake. But I wanted to check out Bath & Body Works for my Secret Santa and some other odds and ends gifts, and my mom had sent my brother and I pictures of some tops she wanted at JC Penney’s. 

I ended up spending way too much money at Bath & Body Works. They had their Buy 3, Get 3 Free sale going on. I intended to buy 3 and get 3 free. What I ended up doing was buying 6 and getting 6 free. I also bought 2 candles and a small thing of hand lotion because my hands are getting so dry and horrid looking what with all of this constant hand washing. I promise I always wash my hands after I go to the bathroom but my hands seem to really be taking a beating for some reason now.

My mom wanted to check out another store that had a stuffed dog in it. She recently lost her dog and she says she’s not getting any more dogs so I guess this is her replacement. She picked out a dog for Christmas after I told her not to check out the price tag, just tell me which one she liked. I also bought a few stocking stuffers for the boy.

Next we headed back to Penney’s. I had a hell of a time trying to find the tops she liked. I did end up finding a cute pair of jeggings for myself, along with a new sweater and a vest.

After we finished at the mall we went to lunch. I was starving. 

Then onto Target. I bought some more stocking stuffers and we both noted the bare aisles in the store. I’m not sure there are going to be any after Christmas sales. That stuff is gone!

I needed to get a gift card from a restaurant in town but my mom suggested going to another location because the one near where we were was horribly busy. She wanted to stop at Kroger anyway and get butter because it was on sale for $1.99.

She dropped me off to run in and grab the gift cards to the restaurants and then we were off to Kroger. I bought stuff for baking and stuff for a breakfast casserole on Christmas Eve.

We were on our way home when my mom remembered that I had promised Picasso Chick-Fil-A after our shopping trip. My mom had made him breakfast so it wasn’t like the kid hadn’t eaten. In fact, I had told him it would be several hours before I would be returning.

I placed my order online but it was still a mess with a long enough wait period. Finally I got his lunch and our two peppermint chip milkshakes and we were on our way back home.

I think we were back home around 3:45.

Now, if that wasn’t enough I had the brilliant idea to invite two of my friends over to grab holiday goodies on Sunday. I even offered up some appetizers or soup if they wanted to come inside and visit, instead of just grab a plate and go.

I started baking late. It started out okay. I made Scotcheroos first. I’m pretty good at that. They went off without a hitch.

Then it was onto Christmas crack. I didn’t have a cookie sheet with a lip on it that was big enough to hold all 40 crackers. I did have a regular cookie sheet though and I figured I could fold up the sides and that would work just as well.

It did not. I heard the timer go off and initially ignored it for a good 30 seconds and then I jumped up out of my chair when I realized it was the caramel baking onto the crackers. When I went to pull it out of the oven I realized that the caramel had escaped the confines of the aluminum foil and had spilled all over the bottom of the oven. Suffice to say there was a lot of cussing going on. I’m not sure holiday cheer and motherfucker belong in the same sentence but that was definitely going on at my house on Saturday. The crackers end up swimming in the caramel to begin with so you can imagine the mess it makes when the caramel bursts the dam, so to speak. The crackers go overboard with it. It was a messy disaster, but I got through it.

I still had two things to make- M&M cookie dough truffles, which got devoured by my kids last year, and sugar cookies.

My cookbook for the sugar cookies recipe was outside in the shed. I had to take a flashlight and root around outside in order to find it. It’s a damn good cookie recipe. Definitely worth the effort.

Both of these recipes require chilling the dough, so I think I actually made both of them before I started with the other stuff. It doesn’t matter though because I ran into problems with both of them.

For the cookie dough truffles I ran out of melted chocolate in which to dip them. So, I got through maybe half of them and had to stop.

Meanwhile, when I turned the oven back on so that I could bake the cookies it began to smoke, thanks to the caramel disaster. I tried cleaning it out and all I got for my efforts was almost being burned. The heat quickly rose through the scrubbing pad I was using, even bundled up into four layers. I tried again using the sponge on top of the scrubbing pad but it still didn’t get it clean enough. I finally dug underneath the sink and found some oven cleaner. This meant I was going to have to put the cookies on hold until Sunday while the oven cleaner did its job.

On Sunday I was once again a cooking fool. My mom asked me if I’d like some scrambled eggs. I said no thank you because I was going to make myself an omelette. She decided that sounded pretty good and told me I could make her one, too. I ended up making three mushroom, spinach, bacon and Swiss cheese omelets.

Picasso and I had an errand to run later on in the morning. I let him drive which was hair raising. He’s a scary driver. Then again, he only has about 2 hours of driving experience so far so what should I expect?

Once back home I let him out and I took off to finish up my shopping. I went to Wal-Mart first because I needed more chocolate chips for the cookie dough truffles, I needed the ingredients for my soup I was preparing for my friends, and I was hoping they would have all of the gift cards I wanted to purchase.

They, too, have pretty much nothing left on their shelves. I was going to pick up some gift card holders and the Christmas section is pretty welled cleaned out. They did have all of the ingredients for my soup, plus the chocolate chips that I almost forgot. I got all except one of the gift cards I was hoping to find. This was awesome except it did mean I needed to go one more place, which I did.

I got back home. I finished up my baking. The sugar cookies were as amazing as I remembered them being. My M&M cookie dough truffles are finished. The Christmas crack is broken up into pieces. The Scotcheroos have not been cut yet so I don’t have to worry about covering them. 

After all the baking was done I moved on to making my soup. I already knew one of my friends was not going to be able to make it. Around five my other friend called to say she wasn’t going to be able to make it after all either. Or, if she did, it wouldn’t be until later, probably around 8. That was fine by me. I just need to get rid of it!

All that’s left now is some cleanup and some wrapping and sorting. I need to wrap my mom’s gifts and I think there might be a gift or two for a kid. Most everything will be put into bags because I hate wrapping gifts. The biggest thing I need to do is sort through the stocking stuffers and Santa gifts so that those are ready to go.

This has been the rare weekend where I really feel like I need an extra day because I’m so tired after all of this running around.

Luckily for me I don’t work a full week again this year. We work a half day on the 24th and then are off the 25th. I’m taking vacation on Monday and Tuesday so I’ll have a good 5 1/2 days off. I go back Wednesday and Thursday and then am off again on Friday. I could get used to a 2 day work week. 

The mobster is flying up for New Year’s Eve so that’s something to look forward to. It will be only our second New Year’s Eve together. He’s getting in a little after 1 but I won’t be getting off work until 5. I’ll pick him up and we’ll go have lunch together and then he’ll drop me off at work and he’ll go back to the house and pick me up at 5.

I will leave you with my entry for our office’s ugly Christmas sweater contest. You probably can’t tell in the pictures but I have matching earrings. They’re little wreaths. The whole dress looks like a putting green. It’s seriously hideous. I can’t believe anyone would buy that dress for anything other than a joke. In fact, when I posted it on Facebook one of my friends told me she sees this exact dress in the Meijer up by her right near the checkout lanes and she often wondered who on earth would buy such a thing. Thanks to me, now she knows!