Tag Archives: Holidays

God Loves You Just as You Are – But the Rest of Us Need a Break

GAAAaaaa

GAAAaaaa

Sometimes when I’m down on myself I find comfort in muttering “well God loves me just the way I am.” This is true… I guess…if you believe that stuff…could be the Cosmos, or Buddha, or even the Great Pumpkin. And then I try to apply this to other people who are at the moment behaving in a rather unlovable way. Sometimes though, I go sailing right past the limits of my patience and medication and that’s when I find myself thinking “OK, yea, sure, God loves you just as you are – but the rest of us need a break!”

I’m beginning to suspect that a large percent of the population who subscribe to the “I’m just fine and peachy keen just the way I am” have forgotten that they don’t live on a desert island. We all live together in the desert of the real. Those of us who are relatively sober and sane anyway.

I’m still in recuperation mode from Thanksgiving. I better get on the ball here and finish percolating and ruminating because Christmas is just around the corner. Having a large immediate family of 4 sisters and 2 brothers and all their children and significant others, the chances of making it through the holidays unscathed, without at least one person, and usually more than one, going bat shit crazy are slim to none.

This Thanksgiving was no exception of course. I went to New Orleans knowing full well what I was getting myself into or so I thought. Why do I keep doing this? It’s because it’s my family and I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and pretend they don’t exist. OK, sometimes I do go through periods of pretending this, but it’s not sustainable over the long run.

This season sent me a bit of a curve ball. A relative who just 6 months ago I initiated a failed intervention for alcoholism, was a clean and sober and behaved in a perfect lovely manner; helpful, talkative, a joy to be with. However, another relative who is usually pretty well pulled together, this time became completely unglued. This particular person is usually fastidious, well groomed, soft spoken, and kind. Every time I saw them they were in the same clothes, disheveled, ranting and raving, smelling of stale beer, throwing things, verbally attacking anyone who crossed their path and just in general acting like they needed a trip to the hospital in a padded wagon.

Unfortunately in New Orleans there is no padded wagon. Mental health care is in abysmal short supply in the U.S.; in New Orleans it is non-existent. If someone has a meltdown all the emergency room can do is shoot them full of tranquilizers or anti-psychotics and then turn them out on the street. Usually the hospital does not bother to inform the family that their loved one was put on the street in a bad part of town at 3:00 am.

I’m waffling back and forth about what to say to this relative who took temporary leave of their senses. Should I say anything at all? I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to because they have a mood spectrum disorder and claim to be handling it on their own. Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving it was excruciatingly obvious that this is not the case.

Happy Mother’s Day

mother's day

Howdy all, I would like to wish all of you moms out there a wonderful happy mother’s day. Being a mother is the hardest job there is. And it’s one of those things that lasts for the rest of your life.

No matter how old your kids are they are still your baby. Nothing can change that, even when they go off the wall, get in trouble, make choices you know are going to cause them pain, when they drive you crazy – you still love them.

So to all you moms, big hugs and kisses. Hope you have a fabulous day.

The Tide Turned – A Short Story

consumerism

illustration by Ethan Bloch

Nobody is really sure when it happened. People just stopped what they were doing, put down their arms, or their reports, schedules, phones, parked their car, or walked away. It started as a gentle stirring of the breeze, or the caress of the master’s hand on the piano keys, a soft slow peaceful melody coming to life.

The event wasn’t on the news, people didn’t panic. There was no run on the stock market or the bank. No looting or rioting. People still went about their business to some extent. Children played, school happened, dinner got cooked, the laundry got washed. The necessary things happened. It happened so gradually that it almost went on unnoticed for quite some time.

It may have gone unnoticed for a while longer if it hadn’t started in the late fall, before the Christmas rush. What did come to the attention of those who track such things was that there was no Christmas rush. There was a small uptick in sales, but what was missing was the frenzy. No one maxed out their credit cards, took out usurious payday loans or careened around town in a mad lemming’s rush to purchase, purchase, purchase.

At first, as usual, businesses stayed open late nights or even all night in anticipation of the shopping rush that didn’t come. What little shopping people did happened in the afternoon or evening and then people went home. After a week of this the employees gave up and for lack of customers went home also. Left with no customers or employees for these longer hours, stores closed earlier, no more late night, 24/7 frenzy.

The December holidays found people off the street, dining with family and friends. Restaurants and bars, usually jammed with lonely people escaping the holiday madness found themselves bereft of customers. By the last week before Christmas small shops and eateries threw in the towel, declared a holiday and sent employees home to their families.

December came and went. In January the talking heads started to panic. Since very little shopping went on in December there was no rush to return or exchange gifts. People weren’t in the store so the January “slashed prices everything must go” sales never quite got off the ground. The nation failed to meet its quota of consumerism.

By February, the talking heads came to a startling realization. No one was listening to them except other talking heads. You can’t con a con; the heads were starting to figure this out too. How you use shock and awe…and fear to sell the news when no one was buying, no one is watching their “news?”

No one heard or cared about their sage instructions saying “now is the time to buy” that new car, buy that spring wardrobe, and buy a better house, although the house lived in now is fine and dandy and holds many happy memories.

March came and a new trend developed. Driving around any neighborhood and it was obvious. Instead of buying things people where giving away. Something more profound than the usual spring cleaning was going on. Garages, storage sheds, and packed quest rooms emptied out. Piles of items, furniture, clothing, knick knacks and gadgets, grew on the curb and overflowed the charity bins at the local grocery store. Thrifts shops were inundated with donations.

By April, manufacturers were in a panic. How are we going to sell all this stuff if no one is buying, what will our stockholders say? Production, sales, prices must always go up, must always improve. That is the way of business. If sales and prices go down then we are in a recession and must buy our way out it at all costs. They calmed down somewhat when they realized that with all the improvements and “just in time” manufacturing and inventory policies, there really was not as much of the huge mounds of unsold inventory as they initially feared.

In May the trend watchers heaved a premature sigh of relief. Ah, it’s vacation time, people will buy clothes, and summer gadgets, and gas, and plane tickets, and on and on. People will begin to consume again in a “normal” manner. Everything will be fine; the stockholders will clap their hands and count their beans, except it didn’t happen. Families decided to have family time at home instead of hauling the family and half their possessions elsewhere, only to ignore each other at their destination.

June came and it was just the summer lull. The economist decided to stop freaking out about it for a month. July came and went without much fanfare.

By August it was becoming painfully obvious that something, only who knows what had happened. It all happened so gradually that the average Joe and Jane didn’t really notice it. They were too busy living their lives.

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Facing Your Inner Grinch

grinchAll I have to do to face this Grinch is look in the mirror. I knew that there was trouble the other night when I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Mr. Husband and agreed with the Grinch. All the buzzles and bangles, ting tangles and cartoongles, the glitzes and proppringles, and the ho ho ho hingles. The slingles and slappings, and comercializapings.

But I really do love Christmas. Perhaps for me it’s more of an interior celebration. It also harkens back to my days as a practicing Catholic. Christmas is not one day but a season that starts on Christmas Eve and lasts until the Epiphany in January. All of this Christmas industry hoopla, that starts on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and rapidly escalates into an all-out commercial shopping frenzy Armageddon, is like screeching chalk on the blackboard of my soul.

So yesterday I decided to be an emissary of peace and finally went out shopping. I took my time to just enjoy being out and about, if the traffic is heavy, so what? Everywhere I went I looked people and in eye, smiled and said “Merry Christmas.” It’s amazing the instant gratification this brings. When I said it to a sales clerk their face softened and they smiled and returned my greetings.

I watched other people as they shopped. At the register they were already on the phone planning their next acquisition and never even looked at the person behind the counter. The clerk may as well been a mannequin.

After wandering around the mall for a couple of hours I reconnected to that feeling that it is in other people we can find joy if we’re looking for it. A smile, a kind word, holding the door for someone with arms full of packages. It really is a fountain of wonder if you chose to perceive it this way.

Peace on earth and good will to all men is the meaning of Christmas. No one can take this from me. I just let it slip away. But, I’m taking it back and keeping it safe in my heart where it belongs. Hug your partner, tell them that you love them and tickle your kids. I wish all of you out there the blessings, love and peace of this holiday season.

Self-Soothing Behavior – How to Live Through the Holidays

Christmas Texas Style

Christmas Texas Style

And no, I don’t mean the naughty kind of self-soothing. Sometimes it’s necessary to dig way down deep into your bag of tricks. And sometimes you just get lucky.

Hubman’s cute little blond spitfire of a cousin sent us a Christmas present in the mail. A tiny little Cyprus tree about 10 inches tall. I smelled it and something clicked in my head.A small glimmer of “mmm, that smells good, like a real Christmas tree” hope was born.

4 Christmases

Another thing I did was drag out my favorite dysfunctional family Christmas movies. 1) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, 2) Four Christmases  – Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, and 3) Mixed Nuts – Steve Martin.

Also, Mister Husband managed to lure me out of the house for the first time since we got home from the road trip, except to go to the drug store for refills. He bribed me with steak, OK. I can be had for a price, but you have to aim high! We went to Texas Land and Cattle steak house.

It turned out to be funny because our poor little teen-aged waiter, sporting a Robert Pattinson of the Twilight Saga hairdo, was a bumble fuss and spilled a tray of drinks on the people in the booth behind us. In an attempt to make him feel better, I told him about the time in my younger days that I spilled a tray with a pitcher of beer and 8 full glasses down the back of a guy wearing in expensive suit. Hubman left him a $20 dollar tip to cheer him up.

Christmas vacation

Christmas vacation

So I guess Christmas cheer can be had, but sometimes you have to work at it. On the way to the restaurant Hubman and I had the annual “do you want to put up the tree this year” discussion. I decided to negotiate this time instead of going along with it without ascertaining the specifics.

I asked him “define exactly what you mean by putting up the tree please. Because in past years it meant that I climb up in the nasty, dusty attic and hand things down to you, because you’re too big for the ladder or the hole in the garage ceiling. Then I get stuck with the majority of the actual decorating to boot.” I’ve given up asking how the stuff that was already there when I moved to this house 10 years ago got up there. I guess it was elves.

In past years after I climb down out of the attic, he assembles the giant electric tree with lights already attached. Thank you, God. I hate stringing lights, because it brings up child hood memories of getting electrocuted every year when testing them. This happened because back when the dinosaurs roamed the lights had real, made of foil, tinsel stuck in them and my mother was afraid to plug them in. So she gets her kid to do it instead, go figure.

Mixed Nuts

Mixed Nuts

Anyway, after Hubman assembles the tree, by his unspoken decree he usually decides his work done, goes in his office, shuts the door, and plays computer games. Leaving me to figure out what to do with the five thousand ornaments and various decorations.

Some are of sentimental value and some are complete junk and should be discarded.  But no one remembers anymore which is which, so I can’t throw anything away unless it is obviously eaten by insects. It’s a daunting task and I immediately begin to harbor thoughts of either homicide or running away to another country, or both. I tried getting tipsy one year to do it, but it ended up a near disaster for both me and the tree. Although I did have more fun than the plastic tree did.

I’m not the seasonal decorating kind person. I would be happy with hanging a wreath on the door and placing a few cutesy pieces of Christmas deco on the fire-place mantle and call it done. So I decided to hold him too his desire to have a fully assembled and decorated tree and insist that he play fair and do his share of the tree decoration.

No coming down with the bubonic plague or developing a sudden allergy to Christmas ornaments! Also, this time I’m going to put aside all the junk that I think are candidates for disposal and enforce the “when in doubt, throw it out” clause. My version of the Santa clause.

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