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.

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.

The Chipmunk Song

What is it with that guy on that Christmas song? Is his name Dave? I know it’s Dave in the movies; not sure it’s ever mentioned in the song.

First thing you hear as the song begins is him asking each adorable chipmunk if he’s ready. 

Okay, Simon? 

Okay! 

Okay, Theodore? 

Okay! 

Okay, Alvin? Alvin? ALVIN!!!  

What is this guy’s fucking problem? He’s screaming at a poor little chipmunk. What has Alvin really done? It’s not like he’s goofing off. He’s simply not responding as quickly as his two suck up brothers. Dave calls him twice and then he loses his damn mind. Why is he yelling at him and what is with his short fuse? He seems like a horrible manager.

Has he ever thought that maybe if he talked to Alvin in a nicer tone of voice Alvin might be a bit more responsive? Alvin might be more inclined to pay attention and give his best efforts towards this Christmas song. I don’t blame him for not wanting to work with that jerk or for not paying attention.

Then he does it again- after insulting him! He compliments Simon and Theodore (That was very good, Simon; that was very good, Theodore!) but tells Alvin he was a little flat, and when Alvin doesn’t immediately tell him he’s so sorry about his failings as a singing chipmunk he yells at him AGAIN! Alvin. Alvin! ALVIN!!!

Whenever I listen to this at work I get irritated with him every single time. Stop yelling at him! Maybe if he treated him with a little bit of respect and kindness he wouldn’t have these issues with Alvin. I think we all respond better to constructive criticism instead of screaming and yelling.

At the end of the song, when he’s telling them they’ve sang enough and need to rest, it sounds like the chipmunks are getting ready to attack him. They are chattering up a storm. Now, maybe it’s just Alvin. Or maybe Alvin has finally galvanized his brothers to rally around him. I don’t know. What I do know is I wouldn’t want to be that guy that spent the day yelling at poor little Alvin. Because it sounds like they’re really pissed. And we all know the last thing you want is a pissed off chipmunk. I’m solidly rooting for Alvin if it comes to that.

Thanksgiving, Part 2

Writing my post late at night (early in the morning) brought back memories of Thanksgivings past, and of what could have been this year. It was a good day, especially considering everything that’s going on. At one point I thought my head would explode. That was back when the CDC, or maybe it was Fauci, was telling everyone to stay home for Thanksgiving and giving lovely alternate ideas, such as a recipe swap or a Zoom Thanksgiving.

Really? A recipe swap? What kind of bullshit is that? 

Hey guys! Instead of eating we’re going to do something different this year. We’re going to swap recipes! Won’t that be fun? I’ll tell Nana how I make my stuffing and she’ll tell me how she makes her famous pumpkin pie. Yeah, we’re not going to eat. We’re just going to swap recipes.

That was about the dumbest idea I think I’ve ever heard. Swapping recipes does not compensate for not seeing your family. It’s not even close. Just don’t even celebrate the damn holiday if that’s what you’re going to do.

I’m equally glad we didn’t have to have a Zoom Thanksgiving.

Hey, that stuffing looks fantastic. Can you put some on my plate? Oh wait! I forgot we’re at two separate houses. Of course you can’t. I’ll just look at it and think about how great it would be if I could actually eat it. At least it’s better than the recipe swap. This time there’s actually food there.

What is the purpose of that? To torture yourself with all the delicious food that you’re not going to be able to eat because it’s at someone else’s house? Why don’t I sit here and watch you eat an entire chocolate cake, too? That should be fun.

I know a lot of people were not going anywhere, instead choosing to celebrate with only their immediate family. I detest holidays like that. My other brother’s wife always talked about wanting to have Christmas with just the immediate family. She described it as her dream Christmas. It was my idea of a nightmare Christmas. I never understood that. To me, if you’re with immediate family only it’s just another day but with more cooking. Being with extended family is part of the magic of the holidays. It was the one time of the year that everyone was together. Maybe I spent too many years trying to celebrate holidays with only me, Jerry Lee, and the kids. There’s a big difference between choosing that and having it forced upon you. Once we moved to Utah we didn’t spend very many Thanksgivings with family. 

We spent eight Thanksgivings out in Utah and of those eight we went home only one of those. One other year my mom and nephew came out to Utah. There might have been a year that his parents came out but I’m not sure; probably not. The rest of the time it was the four of us, and it was not pleasant.

The first year I cooked and cooked and cooked. For four people. Hours spent in the kitchen. Maybe twenty minutes spent eating. And then I got to clean up and we had leftovers for days. Side note: My kids are not big fans of leftovers. 

That was it. That was our big Thanksgiving celebration. Me cooking all day, Jerry Lee holed up in the bedroom watching TV, and my two kids doing God only knows what. They were probably watching television as well.

The next year I tried doing turkey Manhattans to keep the leftovers to a minimum. That didn’t go over well, and I’m sure I still made a ton of side dishes. Jerry Lee always had to have dumplings and macaroni and cheese. Probably stuffing, too.

Finally, Jerry Lee suggested I order dinner from someplace so that I didn’t have to cook. Which I did. But, re-read the previous paragraph. There was still plenty of cooking to be done. Those places don’t let you customize the meal much. You may get a choice between this side or that, but you can’t list everything you want and they whip it up for you. He insisted on having macaroni and cheese. The kids wanted dumplings. They all wanted corn casserole. I wanted the green bean casserole. One year he started getting snippy with me and told me the whole point of ordering out was so that I didn’t have to cook. I told him if I was the one doing all the cooking and they were all getting their favorites then dammit I was going to have the one damn thing I really wanted!

One year I ordered from Marie Callender’s and I swear I spent an hour microwaving food. It was pre-cooked and had to be reheated. It was good, but it still took a lot of time. And there was no green bean casserole. It was a medley of vegetables.

Another year we ordered from Cracker Barrel. Their stuffing was horrible! The rest of it was fine but I usually only eat stuffing once a year so that was a big disappointment.

Yet another year we ordered from one of the grocery stores. The thing I remember the most about that meal was the amazing cranberry and orange salad they had. So good!

There was always more cooking to be done though and it always took about 2 hours. For four people. The same four people I saw every day.

I don’t want it to sound like every year was horrible. The first two were a bit wobbly. Then when I realized this was how our Thanksgivings were going to go from here on out I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out a way to make the holiday more bearable when everyone else in our extended family was spending it together.

That’s when I came across Feast With the Beast at our zoo. Fortunately, Utah weather is fairly mild, even in the winter months, so we bundled up and headed out to the zoo every Thanksgiving morning. We got to watch the animals have their “feast”.

The elephants were always a huge draw. They would give them these huge, thousand pound pumpkins and let them smash them and eat them. One year the little baby elephant, Zuri, climbed into the pumpkin and just sat there in all her glory. It was adorable.

The first year we heard the mountain lions as they got their treats. They were big hunks of meat and bones. Our backs were turned as we were focused on something else but the snarls and sounds coming from their cage was something I’ll never forget. It was truly impressive. The next year we were all set to watch it from the beginning but for some reason we never got to see them get their feast again. I think maybe the feeding time was after the time we needed to leave to pick up our food. 

The monkeys and lemurs were always a treat, watching them pick through the food.

It actually wasn’t a horrible time. Sure, there were times Rock Star was playing chicken with Mother Nature, declaring she didn’t want to wear a coat and then complaining that she was cold. But she wouldn’t wear her coat. But she’s cold. So on and so forth until the end of time… 

And for some reason going to the zoo on Thanksgiving was a very popular idea out in Utah. The crowds started becoming an issue for Jerry Lee. Every year he got more and more disgruntled with the people there, complaining that nobody could see the primates eating or that you needed to get to the elephant exhibit about an hour before they were going to smash the pumpkins because the crowds were so huge.

Another thing we started doing was going to the movies. I can’t say for certain that we went every Thanksgiving but I’m pretty sure we saw both Frozen and Enchanted on Thanksgiving. Different years, of course. Same holiday. 

Let me tell you, movies are even bigger than the zoo out there. Like, theaters sold out big. Because I always celebrated with extended family up until that point and we didn’t leave the house I had no idea so many people went to the movies on Thanksgiving. It was mind blowing.

I never understood why there were so many crowds. I knew why we were there. We were over 1500 miles away from our families. It was just us. We were trying to get out of the house and create a tradition instead of sitting at home, feeling sorry for ourselves. But these people had families in town! Never in my life had I gone off and done “things” on holidays. Well, okay, one time when I was in my early twenties two of my friends and I went to a bar Thanksgiving evening. But that was well after dinner. Holidays were spent at the house with the family. We didn’t go to the movies or to the zoo. We socialized with one another.

When I was younger, or rather, before my parents divorced, my parents would host Christmas Eve at our house. My grandparents, great-grandparents and aunt would come over for our Christmas dinner. We always got to open one gift before dinner. Then we had to wait until the dishes were done before we could head over to the tree. Gifts would be opened. Toys put together. Clothes tried on. Eventually we went to bed and waited for Santa to arrive in the morning.

On Christmas morning we woke to see what Santa had brought us and then we headed over to my grandmother’s house for Christmas lunch. It was the same guest list, just a different location. We typically spent the entire day over there and as the day turned to evening my grandmother would unpack the refrigerator and lay out the leftovers.

Even once my parents divorced and we no longer spent the holidays with my grandparents Christmas Eve was all about celebrating with the family. No one else.

I still remember the time I went to the movies with my neighbor and her daughter on Christmas Eve. It was the first time ever that I had been outside the house doing something on Christmas Eve. I was astounded that people actually went places on Christmas Eve because that was always our big celebration. 

I remember, too, my ex-boyfriend’s younger sister wanting to go to a party on Christmas Eve and actually being allowed to go after opening Christmas gifts. Another one that left me shocked.

Things did change over the years. Once I started driving I began taking my brother down to my grandparent’s house so we could spend Christmas Day with them while my mom spent the day at her future husband’s house with their friends.

Through the years my mom and stepdad often invited friends who had no where else to go to celebrate with us. Even today my sister-in-law’s brothers will often join us for one or both of the holidays. It’s not as though we’re anti anyone-who-is-not-family. But for me, the holidays will always be about bringing people together, celebrating, eating, and making memories.

I’ve tried it though. This whole spending the day with immediate family only. It was probably Jerry Lee’s idea, come to think of it. It was a disaster. It was Picasso’s very first Christmas. As usual we drove the two hours to my mom’s for Christmas Eve; however; instead of spending the night down at my mom’s house and spending Christmas Day with her and my brother, we went back up to Michigan. I think Jerry Lee wanted to celebrate the day in our house with only us and the two kids. All was well in the beginning. The kids woke up. Rock Star, age two, was excited to see what Santa brought her. I think we may have even saved her gifts from us to open that morning instead of taking them all down to my mom’s.

Then we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Only it wasn’t open. Why? Because Cracker Barrel is closed on Christmas Day. I didn’t know that back in 2002. Long story short, we ended up having Christmas dinner at Denny’s. Instead of a home cooked meal with extended family I had a steak at Denny’s. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the day was spent with Jerry Lee watching TV and me wrangling babies. What a grand holiday!

Then we moved to Utah. The first two years we made it back home for Christmas. The next three years I would take the kids and we would leave the day after Christmas to spend celebrate the holiday with my family. Then after about a week I would drive on down to Jerry Lee’s family and celebrate with them as well. Finally two things happened simultaneously.

First, Rock Star finally became an optional in gymnastics. Their season began in January so taking 2-3 weeks off in December was not going to work. Her coaches would have killed her. Probably thrown her off the team. Secondly, and even more of an issue, was the fact that my kids’ school changed from a year round calendar to a traditional school calendar. When my kids were on the year round schedule they had about 4 weeks off at Christmas time. We had plenty of time to go back home and spend the holidays with family. Once we switched to a traditional calendar they had one week off.

After the first Christmas we spent out in Utah by ourselves, the one where the kids opened their gifts Christmas Eve morning and there was nothing to do the rest of the day, I made it a point to fill that day with activities. We went bowling. Sometimes we went to the movies. We went out to dinner. And then we came home and opened Christmas presents. 

The bowling alley was always packed on Christmas Eve and there was a decent crowd at the movies as well. Not as big as Thanksgiving but not empty theaters either.

I can’t complain about our Christmases out there. Aside from the year I nearly had a meltdown because I had been looking forward to our “Crabby Christmas” at Joe’s Crab Shack for months only to not be able to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack, they were pretty good days. Then again, I jam packed those suckers, too, and it’s not like we sat at home doing nothing.

All of this wandering down memory lane only to say I’m very thankful I was able to spend it with family after all.

Another Thanksgiving In the Books

It’s past midnight so technically it’s no longer Thanksgiving but I thought I’d write a Thanksgiving post anyway.

I got up and ran 3.25 miles so I could justify having some pumpkin pie and all the carbs I was going to consume. When I got back, even before jumping in the shower, I started cooking. My mom and I split the cooking. She did a new recipe for cranberries which was really good. She also made the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, the turkey, and deviled eggs.

For as long as I can remember every holiday meal has included my mom’s deviled eggs. With the exception of Picasso, and maybe my nephew, we all love them. Some years we even fight over them. She’s learned from her mistakes though and makes quite a few of them so we don’t have to fight to the death for the last one.

The turkey was actually pretty good this year. I’ve often said it’s my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I could easily have a Thanksgiving feast with only sides. Stuffing? Love it! Green bean casserole? Oh, give me a heaping pile of that. Pumpkin pie? Yes, please! I’ll even take the mashed potatoes and dumplings over the turkey usually. But this year it was good.

For my part I made the obligatory corn casserole, dumplings, stuffing, and a meatloaf. I think it’s now a tradition for me to make a meatloaf along with the turkey. This is the second year now that I’ve made a meatloaf. Last year I made one because my niece asked me to and buttered me up by telling me how much she loved my meatloaf. Of course, she also does not like turkey. This year my mom asked me to make one because she wasn’t sure that the FOURTEEN POUND turkey would feed the seven of us. The bonus was my niece was not expecting it so she was very excited when she found out there was meatloaf.

I am contractually bound to make corn casserole and dumplings every Thanksgiving. One year I didn’t make it and I thought my brother was going to grieve himself to death. “It’s just not Thanksgiving dinner without your corn casserole!” The funny part is I don’t even eat it. It’s something everyone else seems to like though.

My brother is a funny one. He is never the one to cook but he frequently likes to plan the menu. I keep trying to sell soup and salad for a holiday meal and he’s having none of it. This year he checked to make sure the corn casserole and green bean casserole were going to be on the table. I told him I was making the corn casserole and I thought Mom was going to make the green bean casserole. He told me if she wasn’t planning on doing so to let him know what all was in it and he’d do it himself.

What all is in it? How is the man in his 40s and ignorant of what all goes into green bean casserole? It’s not a complicated recipe. Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, dried french onions. Boom! There’s your recipe. Does it really need to be spelled out as to how to assemble it? I don’t think so.

I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know he approved the menu and said that this would do nicely for Christmas Eve, just switch out the turkey with ham, and maybe I could also make my cheesy broccoli and rice casserole.

It was a fairly small gathering but that’s nothing new. Typically on Thanksgiving it’s only me, my mom, my two kids and then my brother and his family. My sister-in-law was working today so it was just the seven of us. Sweet J was invited but she’s been under the weather this past week so she didn’t attend. No, she doesn’t have Covid-19; she’s been tested twice now and both tests were negative. She’s just sick.

Picasso went home with my brother because they’re going out hunting again tomorrow. He’ll be gone all weekend unless they both get a deer the first day. 

I’m not clear on Rock Star’s timeline but I think she’s going back to school before Sunday. Tomorrow we are supposed to go shopping. She thinks she’s going to con me into buying her lots of clothes and shoes. She’s not. It’s way too close to Christmas for me to be taking her clothes shopping. So this ought to be an interesting shopping trip tomorrow (or rather, later today).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Santa is coming!

Father’s Day 2020

Another Father’s Day is here. Neither of my kids have any plans to wish their dad a happy Father’s Day. To my knowledge neither of them bought him a card (not that they have his address, of course) or a gift. My daughter did say she messaged the mobster to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Picasso mentioned how he should buy him a goofy mug because he knew he would love it and use it. Basically, we’re doing nothing around here today in honor of Father’s Day.

My first Father’s Day without him my daughter recognized me on this day. Maybe the second year as well. I don’t remember. One year I bought myself a fire pit for Father’s Day and one of my co-workers texted me to wish me a happy Father’s Day.

I know I’m not Dad. I’m simply a mom who is doing the work of both parents because Daddy Dearest is busy with his new life, pretending to be a wonderful father to a kid that isn’t his.

I am part of a Facebook group called Chump Lady Nation. If you’ve been cheated on feel free to look it up and ask to join. It’s open to anyone who has experienced infidelity.

Someone asked what fathers who abandon their own offspring must be feeling today, or what do they say to justify it? Interesting question.

Mainly, I think they feel just fine. You don’t abandon your kids if they’re important to you. He walked away. He’s got Harley blowing sunshine up his ass, telling everyone who will listen what a great father he is. I guess she doesn’t count those two kids he abandoned and never sees. They don’t fit the narrative. Just concentrate on everything he does for her child. See? Great dad!

The other thought I had is that this is the perfect time to play the victim. It’s his chance to post a public message on Facebook and talk about how much he loves and misses Picasso and Rock Star. He’ll get another chance to tell the world that even though they probably won’t see his message to him he loves them to the moon and back. He loves them more than they will ever know. It tears him apart to be away from them. Poor, poor, sad, wittle Jerry Lee, longing to be acknowledged by his children who have been brainwashed by me, the evil, satanic, demonic ex-wife.

People will rally around him and tell him to never give up! They’ll assure him that one day the kids will know the truth! They’ll tell him that as they grow older they will be able to make their own decisions and come to their own conclusions. No longer will they be manipulated by their horrible mother who uses them as pawns.

Of course he doesn’t mention how he lived in the same house as his two kids for six months after his affair was discovered and outed and yet he never bothered in all of that time to go downstairs and talk to his daughter. The last time he talked to her she was crying and demanding to know where he was. He never texted her, never called her back. He had one conversation with his son, who was 13 at the time. He told him he wouldn’t deny he had a girlfriend but we hadn’t been happy since we had kids, which I suppose makes him fucking his cousin an okay thing to do. Not sure how appropriate it is though to tell your 13 year old that he and his sister are the reason for the demise of their parents’ marriage. But after that conversation with Picasso where he played the sad sausage, complete with telling him that I took all of his money and I had a lawyer and he didn’t, he walked past his son’s room every day for six long months and never popped his head in to say hello again. At the age of 13 my son was astute enough to realize that he was the child and his father was the adult so his dad should be checking up on him; not the other way around.

He doesn’t mention that in the time he remained in the same house he never took them out for a meal, or a walk, or an ice cream cone, or on a shopping trip. He told them they would never do without and then he turned around and made sure that the whore’s kids had everything their little hearts desired while turning his back to his own kids.

I know he doesn’t tell his well wishers about walking out the front door as though he was going to work and then driving off to his new home in a new state with a new job. He won’t admit to any of them that he couldn’t even bring himself to tell his kids that he was moving out of the house, never mind the fact that he was moving out of Virginia. He won’t tell them how he didn’t even take any of his possessions. He was just living in the spare bedroom one day and gone the next. It took me almost a week to figure out he was finally gone. Of course, he didn’t bother to tell me he had left his job either. That was going to be a wonderful surprise when my checking account was repeatedly overdrawn with all the bills I paid the day after his regular payday.

If I had to place a bet I would lay odds on the fact that he has not told all those sympathizing with him that he has not yet told his kids that he has remarried. It’s been two years now. He still hasn’t found a good time to mention it. Okay, to be fair it’s not quite two years. Give it another week and then I can truthfully say that.

They probably also aren’t aware that the only reason he has had almost no contact with his son in the four plus years since he walked away is because he doesn’t have his phone number. Yes, the man who is so intelligent that he could qualify for membership in Mensa has no idea how to get his son’s phone number. What a pickle!

I’m sure he also neglects to mention that while he could drive 12 hours roundtrip every weekend for six months to see his whore of a cousin, he has not made that drive one time to see his children and spend a weekend with them. Major props to him for being able to tear himself away from her pussy long enough to see his daughter graduate; however, once again he made it all about himself and didn’t so much as say hello to his son. See above: Doesn’t have his phone number so no way to contact him. 

I’m also positive he never mentions the fact that he neglected to send a dime in child support for ten months, refused to pay the correct amount of his modified child and spousal support for another ten months, or that he has dodged at least two attempts to garnish his wages, whether on purpose or not.

The reality is he has shut his kids out of his life. He hasn’t bothered to tell them where he currently lives. That’s not surprising considering he didn’t bother to tell them he moved out of Virginia after moving them 2000 miles away and destroying everything they had ever known. Nor did he tell them when he moved from Kentucky to Mississippi. I think the only reason he put his correct address on their Christmas cards is because he knew he wouldn’t be there much longer.

He does not contact them regularly. He has not talked to them on the phone in almost five years. He sends them a card or a Venmo transfer twice a year- if they’re lucky. He might have a little more contact with Rock Star (because he has her phone number) but she hates interacting with him because he always tries to guilt her.

Abandoning fathers don’t have much of a conscience. At least not in my opinion. The one in my kids’ lives is being fed a lie by his complicit whoring cousin/wife. You’re so sparkly and shiny; you’re just the best daddy out there! Then he takes that lie and he plays sad sausage for the rest of the world, never ever taking any responsibility for the state of his relationship and certainly not telling the truth about how it ever got to that point.

I’d wish him a happy Father’s Day. Sure I’d throw in, “Fuckwit,” after it, but I’d do it; however, he doesn’t deserve it. No, worse than that, he’s no kind of father. My kids deserve better.

Quarantine Craziness!

If any of you read Chump Lady then you probably saw Thursday’s post about Bruce Willis self-quarantining with his ex wife, Demi Moore, and their three adult children. If you’re familiar with Chump Lady then you can probably guess her reaction. She thought it was crazy and stupid.

I, personally, don’t care whether they’re all stuck together or not. Bruce and Demi have always had a crazy type of post-divorce relationship. They’ve always made a show of being a united front for their three girls, at least publicly. Hell, maybe privately too; I don’t know them so I can’t say with certainty. They were the supposed goal of post divorce relationships, even when she got together with the much younger Ashton Kutcher. It was all one big happy family with the girls calling Ashton “MOD”, or, my other dad. I did feel a bit vindicated when it was revealed after Demi and Ashton broke up that Bruce had always thought the guy was a jerk. I also feel fairly confident that “their other dad” doesn’t have much of a relationship with “his” daughters now that he has remarried and has two children of his own.

Tracy did bring up one valid point though, which I hadn’t really thought about. Bruce is remarried and has two young daughters with the current Mrs. Willis. Why is he not with them?

I don’t really care. Honestly. What I did find interesting in all the comments was someone who decided to chime in with the news that she had left Chump Nation because it felt like a cult. Despite being cheated on she and her cheater remain friendly and she felt like Chump Lady didn’t approve. She went on to say that Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and basically shames those who don’t. Another commenter chimed in with, “Exes CAN be caring friends. It DOES happen.” And then went on to imply that Chump Lady wants everyone to be pissed off at their ex.

Um… no she doesn’t. She’s pretty clear on this. Does she want you to get angry and use your anger to propel you through the hard parts of this shit show? Absolutely! Does she want you to stay there and wallow in your misery and the unfairness of it all? Not at all. Her standard go to advice is that the pain is finite. It hurts like a sonofabitch but it will end. On some random Tuesday. Her goal for her readers? To reach Meh, that glorious state where you don’t care what your fuckwit is doing or who they’re doing it with. You’re not angry. You’re not vengeful. You are way too busy living your new amazing life.

I can believe she doesn’t see the point in remaining friends with your ex. Then again, her first ex, the father of her child, is a hoarder with mental issues who sued her pro se for custody continuously despite rarely seeing his own child and being financially negligent; and her second ex was a serial cheating sociopath. Not a lot to work with.

She’s also not a big fan of the whole “conscious uncoupling”. I’m right there with her. If infidelity wasn’t a part of your divorce I can see perhaps remaining friendly. Otherwise, my question has always been: Why would I want friends like these?

She firmly believes you don’t have a lot to work with when your spouse cheats. She doesn’t think most of them are genuinely remorseful; they just don’t like consequences so they’ll say or do whatever is needed to prevent said consequences. And she has said many times that cheating is not about the marriage rather it’s about entitlement and shitty character.

I understand she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I don’t agree with everything she says. The Bruce and Demi self-quarantine? I don’t care. And despite her insistence that they’re probably having sex and the new wife should file for divorce, I don’t think that’s true. Her views on emotional affairs? Don’t necessarily agree, although she has changed her stance over the years. This idea that a 50 or 60 year old has just as much of a chance to find love again as a 20 or 30 year old? Nope. Don’t agree. I also don’t think she necessarily gives credence to all the different variables people have in their lives. It sometimes feels like it’s a one size fits all approach. I tend to think that obstacles facing a 60 year old whose marriage has disintegrated after 35 years are probably different from the 30 year old who is divorcing after five years. I tend to think that the woman who has been a stay at home mom for 15 years is going to find it financially more difficult than the woman who is the main breadwinner in her family. Despite my minor disagreements I’m not offended by her or her message. I take what I can use and I leave the rest. Her tag line is very clear: Leave a cheater, gain a life.

Apparently though there are some people out there that are very, very offended by the fact that Chump Lady exists. They’re offended by the fact that she preaches leaving instead of reconciliation. They’re offended that she doesn’t encourage friendship and “cooperation”, but rather gray rock and no contact. They’re offended at the thought of no longer untangling the skein, or giving up their spot on the marriage police. They also seem to be offended by the fact she believes instead of investing in a relationship with a person who has lied to you, cheated on you, and stabbed you in the back you should invest in yourself.

My first thought on the commenter who was complaining Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and all of those who are offended by the fact that she doesn’t believe in reconciliation is, “Who the fuck cares?” Seriously! There are 11,569,214 websites out there devoted to reconciling with your lying cheater, aka your wayward spouse. There are almost as many blogs written by betrayed spouses who are reconciling after infidelity. Chump Lady is ONE website that doesn’t preach reconciling at all costs. Actually, if you read her you know she doesn’t preach reconciling at any cost. But it’s one website! One website out of millions. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blogs written by divorced women? Most of the blogs I have found are written by women (almost overwhelmingly women) that are reconciling. Most websites are geared towards reconciliation. It’s a foregone conclusion that you want to save your marriage.

As for being friends with your ex? That is the message we are bombarded with every. single. day! Friendly exes are held up as the golden standard. Look, they vacation together! They spend holidays together! I believe in putting my children’s needs ahead of my own; that’s why I threw the OW a baby shower. We’re besties now- because it’s best for the children. I live with my ex on the weekends- for the children.

We get literally one website that tells us it’s okay to not be buddy buddy with someone who has abused you. One website that tells us it’s okay if we don’t want to double date with the ex and the replacement, or host parties together, or vacation together. We get one website that tells us it’s okay not to engage, to not waste our breath. One website out of 11,569,214 that tells us it’s not us, it’s them. That we don’t control them and there wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do to make them cheat on us. And even there you find people who want to talk about forgiveness and thinking of the children. Like those of us who aren’t willing to have our ex and the OW over for dinner must not love our children. Like those of us who would rather crawl through raw sewage than sit with our ex and the affair partner never think of our children or refuse to put their needs ahead of our own.

There’s a woman who is hosting dinner for her husband (not divorced yet) and his pregnant girlfriend/mistress because custody orders are still in place and if she does dinners with them then Daddy Dearest won’t push the issue and insist they transfer the child between homes during this pandemic. Many people have responded with, “No. Not gonna happen.” She continues to insist she is putting her child’s needs ahead of her own and doing what it takes to help her child be comfortable. Then along comes someone who tells her what a wonderful thing she’s doing, how it’s so great that she can put her child ahead of her own ego and anger.

There it is again. That assumption that people can’t let go, that they’re mired down by their anger. If only you would forgive everything would be wonderful. Adult children of divorced parents NEVER complain about their parents being civil to one another. They are only grateful Mommy and Daddy could put aside whatever petty issues they may have had which led to this divorce so that everyone could go to Benihana’s after the school play or they could have both of their parents there on Christmas morning.

Ah yes, the kids are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes as they roll out of bed in their matching pajamas. They run down the stairs to the sight of their giant Christmas tree decorated to the nines and full of blinking lights. Presents overflowing. There’s Mommy in her sweats and t-shirt. She’s been up all night getting things ready for the big reveal and has been busy making breakfast for everyone. And then there’s Daddy and his whore, both dressed in their Christmas finest, with her practically sitting on his lap, her hand firmly holding onto his as if to claim him. Mommy is dutifully serving Daddy and the whore that helped demolish her family like the good subservient loser that she is. They all laugh and coo over the kids as they open their gifts, patting themselves on the back because they’re so evolved and love their children so much more than those bitter exes that spend the holidays in separate homes. Then Daddy and the replacement say it’s time for them to go. Maybe they take the kids with them for more festivities. Maybe they head home to their own quiet, clean house to spend the rest of the day in bed, fucking like rabbits before going out for Chinese food and going to the movies. Meanwhile, Mom is left to clean up the kitchen and the mess of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows and assemble the toys or find batteries. Wow- sounds like an amazing holiday.

The sad part is that this is the narrative preached by so many. This is the only way to teach civility, letting go, moving on, exhibiting grace. It’s also the only way you can demonstrate that your children’s well being is the most important thing.

You know what? I AM a child of divorce. I never once wanted those things. I never expected my parents to act as a unit now that they were divorced. I don’t know who all these kids are that think even though Mommy and Daddy are divorced they’re still going to do everything together. My dad cheated on my mom. For years my mother could not stand him… or her. I still remember after Rock Star’s fourth or fifth birthday party when everyone had gone home my mom telling me she had been talking to my dad and she had to find something else to do because she was having a good time talking to him and it almost made her forget how much she couldn’t stand him. They separated when I was in fourth grade. I had my first child at 31. This was twenty plus years later.

I’m not damaged by the fact that we didn’t spend holidays together or that my parents weren’t super chummy. It was just the way it was. My mother was civil when she had to be. She preferred to not be around him. He and the OW turned wife were invited to her home for my graduation party. I think that was probably the first time they were in the same space for a prolonged period of time. I’m not sure they said a single word to one another at my wedding. You know what? I didn’t even notice. It did not affect me or my big day. They were able to be in the same space when we started having kids and the kids had birthday parties. Again, she was civil when she had to be. She was not friendly. She kept people around her and kept busy when they were there in the same space. I’ve never had a problem with that. I’ve never thought less of her. I’ve never wondered, “Gee, why didn’t my parents take us on a family vacation after they got divorced?”

I have always believed you do not cease to be a person with feelings and emotions once you have children. Yet, so often what we’re told is good parents eat shit sandwiches. Good parents let people walk all over them for the sake of their children. You don’t get to feel hurt. You don’t get to feel angry. You don’t get to draw boundaries. You’re a parent. Whatever your kid wants you should give them. Don’t worry about the psychological toll it may take on you.

I say, “Balderdash!” I much prefer Chump Lady’s message. Let us have our ONE damn site out of millions. If we’re all wrong who the fuck cares? It’s not like there aren’t millions upon millions of websites and blogs that are going to push reconciliation and friendliness between exes.

To be continued…