Holidays

#MicroblogMondays: ISO Holiday Spirit

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It is 6 days before Christmas, and I am in dire need of Christmas spirit. Our tree is up, but that’s about it due to the wiring/fiber project and frankly, scope creep.  I’m off work for the rest of the year, and there is plenty to do, but I can’t find my motivation.  It’s been a year. Between health issues, work issues and more work issues, kitty cat issues, 7-year-olds going on 13 issues, and the election, we – the adults in the house – just want to hibernate until…until when? When things are better?

It’s a year for things to be up-ended, even our holiday celebrations.  Jimmy and his brother both starting new jobs means less vacation time, so we had his family’s Christmas celebration on Sunday when we usually have it after Christmas.  Instead of spending the day after Christmas baking goodies, I made only two small batches on Saturday since they are flying back to NJ instead of driving. We will have Christmas with my family later this week and then actual Christmas at home and then we’ll be done.  It isn’t bad; it’s just different. Everything feels different this year.

It’s been quite a year.

But we will muddle through as my favorite melancholy Christmas song suggests. We have an excited little boy who is counting down to Santa – maybe one of the last years for Santa in our house – and two Advent calendars to maintain. Cookies to bake for Santa and for us.  We introduced him to the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies recently, and it is so special to watch his wonder as he discovers those worlds.

So maybe the wooden Advent calendar is underneath the stairs and there is a TV in our fireplace. So maybe one strand of my carefully-checked lights on the bushes outside stubbornly refuses to work. So maybe the $1.39 lights for the windows I bought refuse to work consistently (thanks, China!). So maybe I’ve already watched Christmas Vacation three times. So maybe my Christmas cards still aren’t done despite actually having a formal family portrait this year.  So maybe I prefer to read Trixie Belden fan fiction instead of engaging with the news because reality is too much.

It is what it is. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas spirit will find me.

xmastree2016

This may represent the entirety of our decorations this year.

 

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2015

Today, J came home mid-day from the last day of work for the year, looking more at peace than in several years. He bounded up the stairs to the porch with our takeout feast, grinning the entire time.

Today wasn’t only his last day of the year; it was his last day of employment period at the company at which he celebrated 14 years earlier in the month.

In October we found out he was being made “redundant,” and though other opportunities with the company were available, we agreed that he should search elsewhere. Mergers, culture, people…it had been a stressful few years and not a good fit.

So now, we greet 2016 with me as the breadwinner we joke. We’re OK. There are irons in the fire and ideally, J will get a few weeks of rest before moving on. Fingers crossed.

That is kind of how 2015 went. Not a bad year exactly but not exactly great. Highs, lows, stress, relief…the year had it all.

We are so fortunate in all we have that it seems churlish to think about the less stellar parts. Yet I’m tired of them. What I am just realizing is that this is what adulthood and adult lives are. Shit happens. Shit happens interspersed with good and great stuff. This is life. This is my life.

So I bid 2015 farewell. We did good stuff, watched good stuff, had fun and cuddles. Beach trips. Legos. Listen to Your Mother. Bad stuff too. Stress. Work. Bad complexions thanks to stress. Anxiety. Weight gain.

But as they say, tomorrow is a new day. Nay, a new year. Welcome, 2016. You arrive full of promise but I also expect the lows.

My collard greens are prepped & I have black eyed peas and pork in the wings. 

Goodbye, 2015. Welcome, 2016.

The Not Pinterest Christmas

It looks like it has stopped raining finally, but the sky is still gray and the ground soggy. That makes two rainy Christmases in a row (et tu, global warming?).  It is also absurdly warm –  gonna be 75 degreees today. Am I in Australia or North Carolina?

We’ve watched few Christmas movies so far. I can’t believe I haven’t watched Christmas Vacation yet.

The lights on the outside bushes look good except for the strand on the last one because that’s when I discovered the plug for the last strand of lights didn’t fit the plug that came before. It fits the first strand, though. I thought about trying to reengineer them all but it feels too late now, so we will go with the two rows of lights on the bush. Oh well.

Daniel broke one of the lights in the window when he was waving to me when I went to the grocery store the other day. No worries – it isn’t like the front windows can be seen because of the large bushes in front of them. I alone will notice the asymmetry of two windows and one light .

I baked a lot of holiday goodies yesterday. My knees hurt. But it was  a good thing to do because the one staple I didn’t check before heading to the store was our brown sugar supply.  We now have 10 pounds of it

I mailed photo cards on Monday and Tuesday. They were hastily designed and printed on glossy photo paper at Walgreens. No matte cards from Tiny Print, Shutterfly, Zazzle etcetera. I’ve been meaning to book a family portrait for a long time, but it did not happen this year. That is why our glossy card features photos of only Daniel. That and the fact we took no decent pics with us in them. There was one possibility but it made my double chins front and center.

I didn’t go to my 20th high school reunion because see sentence above about double chins.

I had to ask my mom to help me figure out how to hang garland on our stairs and she made me 4 beautiful bows in 15 minutes.

I fail at the decorative parts of Christmas. My windows are not decorated; we don’t have a wreath (still in a garbage bag in the garage). Our elf lives with us year round.

I did buy pink poinsettias for the front porch because it is a billion degrees this year.

Maybe I don’t have it together decoratively but that’s OK.

I have a 9-ft tree whose lights seem to work this year (knocks on wood). I got out the ladder to decorate it despite my fear of heights. It is beautiful.

There are sugar cookies “expertly” decorated by an eager 6-year-old for Santa.

We’re making reindeer food today.

There are gifts under the tree and surprises hidden everywhere.

We have a Lego Christmas book to read tonight.

We get to play Santa.

And I still have 10 pounds of brown sugar 

  

Thanksgiving: the Aftermath

  
And then after a delightful dinner, you are left with the detritus.

I was surprised how exhausted I felt by 8PM last night, considering that our day was low key and we were cooking for only the 3 of us. However, a friend reminded me that whether we are cooking for 3 or 30 (heaven forbid), the amount of work is the same. True that.

At least we have a refrigerator full of yummy leftovers.

Thanksgiving 2015

Today should be the type of holiday I hate: 

  • It’s only the three of us
  • It’s 70 degrees
  • My house is a wreck

But I don’t. Instead, I love it. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner in my PJs. Actually, we are all still in our PJs.  I typically love chilly weather for Thanksgiving, but Jimmy and I cannot stop telling each other how much we love the bright blue sky and warm day. It’s beautiful.

I love that we are keeping Thanksgiving simple and just cooking for the three of us this year. Ordinarily, I love having a crowd around to celebrate, but not this year.

We will eat when the food is ready. We will likely still be in our PJs and will eat around Legos at the kitchen table instead of a beautifully-decorated dining room table. The house will still be a wreck, but that’s OK because the Christmas decorations come out tomorrow.

Sometimes it is good to be low key.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

2014: Kilroy Was Here

In prior years, I felt very sentimental on New Year’s Eve and spent time plumbing the depths of the year to acknowledge the good and bad, come to terms with my feelings and (often tearily) say, “godspeed” to the year, recognizing this year would never occur again.  More recently, I can barely be bothered to shrug and raise a glass. Heaven knows I don’t see midnight very often any longer.  The shrug isn’t meant to denote antipathy; it is more of a “holy shit. The year is ending already?  How is that possible? It feels like it just started!” Life has become a blur, and I’m not sure I could sift through it comprehensively if I wanted to.

But our year deserves something on its way out, doesn’t it? A virtual “Kilroy was Here.”

I don’t think I’d describe 2014 as a great year, but it wasn’t bad.  It was stressful and full of worry and anxiety, especially about Daniel’s school situation.  Full of change. I went through another re-org at work, got yet another new boss (who is amazing by the way) and moved offices twice but packed three times. When I return to work on January 5, I will be in a(nother) new space in a new building.  We’re up-ending systems and technology, and there are so many new faces at work that I have trouble keeping them straight. Jimmy went through a lot of the same although he is now able to work from home, which brings its own highs and lows.

2014 brought lots of snow; snow is different as an adult with school-age children, especially living in an area which still shuts down at the threat of snow.  We had two months of sickness, and I wore glasses for 6 weeks thanks to episcleritis.  No, I don’t think I would classify the first half, definitely the first third, of the year as good.

Our second year of Listen to Your Mother was a success with two nearly sold-out shows, and I can add another dozen wonderful women to those I met in 2013 during our first production year.

Daniel is thriving at his school, and his kindergarten year is going well. He is reading and doing simple math. He is sassy, funny, bossy and sweet.

It sounds so positive, yet why do I feel so down? Part of it may be my own over-sentimentality when it comes to change and endings. Part of it may be due to the holidays.  They were stressful, as they tend to be when you the adult in charge of making magic.  It didn’t help that it rained on Christmas Eve, as well as several days before and several days after.  The back yard is soggy, and little boys need to expend energy they haven’t been able to.  I think we all have a touch of cabin fever, and I feel precious vacation time seeping away faster and faster, making me fret: “have we made memories? Have we done good stuff this year? Can we point to any accomplishments or successes? Are we happy???”

Two beach trips.  Lego Fest. A house over-run with Legos built by a little boy who has become an amazingly proficient Lego builder. Snow. Maybe too much snow. Good food. Lots of books. Lots of good shows watched on TV.  A $250,000 grant awarded at work. Rewatching The Office. Making friends. Defending loved ones and standing up to people when they need it. Laughter. Love.

Not too shabby.

I have stopped making resolutions, and I’ve realized that years are seldom good or bad but usually a mix, especially as we age. So I’ll say this:  goodbye, 2014.  Welcome, 2015. It’s a blank slate, and may it be kind to us all.

 

#MicroblogMondays: Excitement

Last night, Daniel tried to put brown marker on our cat’s white fur. And that’s after he chased her up and down the stairs in an attempt to “race.” While the energy might have been the result of the sugar he consumed at the cookie decorating party we attended earlier that day, I think it is safe to say that someone is VERY excited about the holidays.

While the daily increase in excitement and energy can be exhausting for the adults (and cats), it’s sweet to see. Daniel really gets the holidays this year. And no, he doesn’t yet understand the history and meaning of the holidays but associates them with Santa Claus and presents; it is sweet and somehow satisfying to see him rip into a gift. It’s a purity of enthusiasm and delight that lasts only a short while.

And he had us in stitches over his answer to what the meaning of Christmas is: Hanukkah!

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