Archive for December, 2010

Published by PaintingChef on 27 Dec 2010

A little closer to figuring this whole holiday thing out. One step at a time.

Holidays are so magical when you are little. But aside from that, they are EASY. When you are a kid, the hardest part of the holidays is dealing with the itchiness of that god-awful Christmas sweater and staying in bed until you are allowed to get up on Christmas morning.

We all have our own traditions and they change from family to family. We spent every Christmas at my great-grandparents house in Tellico Plains and then later at Neena’s house just a quick 5 minute drive from our own house. As far as the itchy sweaters went, we usually lucked out because pajamas were de rigeur for Christmas Eve from about 6:00 on. And my sister and I had a hard-fast rule for the getting out of bed trick… you see, Neena’s house was across the street from a Weigel’s (think regional convenience store, sort of a kid’s version of the bar in Cheers where everyone knows your name) and they were open from 6 am till midnight, 356 days a year. So if Weigel’s was open, we were allowed to come downstairs. Luckily… we could see their light from the bedroom window at Neena’s house.

And of course as soon as we saw that light click on we would race downstairs to see everything all sparkly, because nothing sparkles like Christmas morning and we would race up to wake up mom and dad who, bless their hearts, had been up since 3 am making everything so freaking sparkly. And it amazes me that they were able to keep opening one eye and grumpily snarling “no shit Sherlock” as we shook them awake with the urgency and ferocity that would normally only be equaled by the most pressing need to escape a burning building.

So as we would lounge in our pjs, (matching, natch) comparing loot and emptying stockings and just generally rolling around in Christmas, the biggest breakfast you’ve ever seen would be under construction in the next room. Every bit of it from scratch. Once our bellies were full, we would all roll into the living room for another obscene display of Christmas, with even my parents receiving bags from “Santa” until it was time for the four of us to pack it up and head home where, amazingly, there was one final round of Santa to encounter (but not until we had showered and climbed BACK into pajamas, obviously)

But this long diatribe is just a way for me to explain to you that my Christmas traditions have always been something I’ve guarded fiercely. I can’t imagine that I was an easy person to marry as I’m so unwilling to compromise on what Christmas activities take place. But compromise I must. And then as our families undergo the changes that are to be expected as the years tick by, people aging and eventually passing away, siblings marrying, cousins finding their own ways, divorce, remarriage, and, of course, our own marriages and the addition of new families and new sets of traditions. Nothing stays the same. And you don’t realize that when you are 7 years old and every year is the same but still spectacular and maybe there is even snow.

But things do change. New traditions are created. And learning to roll with the punches is kind of vital. This year has been the most un-traditional of years for us and I was dreading it because there has been so much upheaval in our lives the past couple of years. That safe and sparkly house where I spent every Christmas for a good 20 years doesn’t even exist anymore. And nobody that lived there is still with us. So you adapt. You come up with new plans. You crash your daughter’s in-laws Christmas dinner and find out it isn’t so bad. You plan Christmas for a few days later. Stretching out a holiday isn’t exactly bad. As I type this, I haven’t even had half of Christmas yet.

And guess what? We’ve done just fine. It’s alright when things are different. When change becomes necessary. And maybe its even a good thing when your new traditions aren’t anything like your old ones. Maybe that’s not so bad. The only part of it that matters to me is that it exists. That there is a day, sometime in the winter, when we all manage to come from our different corners of life and sit down and just enjoy each other. When we can relax and tell our same stories and pretend that they are new and we can curl up on the couch together and read a book or watch “A Christmas Story” and pretend that none of us have ever seen the whole movie at one time and drink hot chocolate and just be a family. Not because we have to be but because we are lucky enough to be related to each other.

Published by PaintingChef on 17 Dec 2010

In which I stretch the same topic out over almost 2 weeks because I am a slacker and have nothing else interesting to say to you since all my interesting left once I stopped taking fertility drugs. Subtitle: More effing books.

Holy book orgasm Batman. I stocked up at the library, some good, some not so much. But its all about trial and error. The problem with the literary batcave I’ve been hiding in is that I so rarely had stepped outside my comfort zone, I’d forgotten that it was even POSSIBLE to not like a book. The big winner? Harlan Coben. I know, everyone has read everything he’s ever written. Well… not me. And I love him. And I read “Gone for Good” in about half a day.

I wanted to love Haven Kimmel, her book titles just sounded so great. I selected “The Solace of Leaving Early” and I looked forward to devouring that one in a single sitting but it turned out to be too religion/spiritually-slanted for my taste and I had trouble staying focused. But that’s just me, it was beautifully written, just not the book for me.

Last night I finished “The Unknown Terrorist” by Richard Flanagan (pause to check Amazon for accuracy…check…it actually was not suggested by anybody but managed to catch my eye when a rather rude lady elbowed me away from the Vince Flynn books once she realized I was looking at them) and I wanted to like it and parts of it I did but it was (SPOILER ALERT) all so very “Arlington Road” with the unhappy endings full of death and sadness and misconceptions and people turning into what they were inaccurately made out to be. Aside from which, although he gave his lead character a name, and a perfectly nice one, he insisted on calling her “The Doll” throughout the novel and I found it so very pretentious.

Next up is “The Lotus Eaters” by Tatjana Soli and then something by Vince Flynn. They all sounded equally delicious and I’m not sure which one I ended up with. It has a picture of the White House on the front? And it’s blue-ish?

So this is me. Checking in and writing the post that I meant to write over a week ago thanking you all so very much. Great suggestions!! Although I have read about ¾ of them, there were definitely some great ones that I hadn’t and I took a nice fat list to the library with me last time and I’ll continue to do so. And feel free to keep the suggestions coming!

Next time we will talk about some of the strange creatures you find at the library and why their keepers let them out of their cages…

Also, if I punk out until after the holidays, which, let’s face it, is a very real possibility given my posting frequency of the past year (I KNOW, I KNOW… just… I KNOW.) I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with lots of inappropriate behavior and good shoes and family-people love. Spend time with those who make you happy, not those you feel obligated to see. If you won the lottery and they happen to be the same, well, welcome to my side. Gumdrops and unicorns to you all!