Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shop At Your Own Risk!

Hands in the air - who all participated in the Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving? Did you start at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, when many of the stores opened their doors? Or did you start at midnight, crashing through lines of people to get to the biggest sales on earth – first?

How many of you have trampled/scratched-up heels, bruised elbows and toes from all the pushing and shoving from the other half-crazed, eyes-glazed-over folks?

How many of you had folks at home sitting on stand-by with bail money; just in case situations over the newest Play Station got out of control in Toys R Us, because somebodies mom thought they had their hands on the last one first?! Not that I would know anything about stuff like that.

And how many of you are now sitting at home with a pile of stuff (pretty much anything you could get your hands on) that you bought at 75% off, plus your additional $15 coupon to boot – that you have absolutely no use for now in the light of day? But HEY! Dang what a deal it was in that half-crazed minute when it was between you and three other same-crazed-looking folks and you dived-in on top of that rack and made the catch of the day first by golly!! Those victories cannot be denied people – as they were all for the sake of THE WIN.

And let me tell you, the yard sale re-sells of all that unwanted/needed merchandise will be for sure at least the dollar value you spent or maybe if you’re lucky, even some profit. Unless of course you’re that “hoarder” that stashes stuff like that away, because some day you or someone else might need it, but in reality, it will most likely stay until one day your children are cleaning out your house, because you have gone on to bigger and greater places.

Lawd, the talk about me when that day comes will be tremendously funny, and I hope that my spirit is allowed to hang around for a while. My children are absolute comedians and that show will not be one that I would want to miss out on. They will leave nothing unsaid and no feelings will be spared as they discuss all my saved treasures, memories of past conversations and prior words from my mouth that will never die, even though I am now gone.

At any rate, hopefully that’s a long time away, and my original discussion was about Black Friday. Well, I’ll tell you folks – I did participate – oh yes indeedy I did! But I did all of MINE, from right here in the comfort of my own home, in my recliner, with no other knees and elbows in my face, and no one was grabbing anything but me and my fingers on the enter button of my laptop! Plus I did not seclude my shopping to Friday only, oh no, I blew the doors off Cyber Monday as well!

If you all did it right, hopefully your Christmas shopping is about over, and that’s the brightest Christmas light of all! 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Twas the Month Before Christmas

The limbs glisten like snowflakes shining by the light of a full moon, the jewels hang from front to back to side, dangling and bursting with many-prisms-of-color; and sometimes they twist and turn when the least bit of air catches beneath them, just enough to seem like tiny ballerina’s dancing on a stage.

The colors of red and green spread throughout as well, draping shelves, lining table runners, and lounging on the backs of chairs and couches. Holiday blankets begging to warm your feet and pillows of the same to rest your head, as you close your eyes for a short winter’s nap dreaming of Christmas’s past.

The family will all stand and stare, arms linked with one another, admiring the warmth and beauty of the sights before them – and then turn and gaze into the eyes of the loved one standing next to them, remarking about how lucky they all truly are to belong to one another.

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEECH – REWIND! Wait! You all didn’t think I was talking about me and mine did you? Oh goodness gracious no! That’s not how it goes AT ALL in our house.

The whole decorating “experience” is riddled with words that are neither holy or nice, mostly naughty and scary. It’s a trial and error event every year, and that any of us makes it through without having to be a material witness for one another is truly a Christmas miracle!

All of our decorations are out in “the shed”. I hope that sounds as scary as it always turns out to be. They are all stored on the top of the loft which means it takes two people to get them down. One to hand them off and the other down below to try and grab them without being crushed/annulated/or knocked unconscious.

This of course also requires a LOT of shouting, some mild cursing, and calling each other less than exemplary names. Sometimes the hand-off goes flawlessly, other times, the heavy-as-heck box in question will shoot right out of the loft-guy’s hands and shoot out over the top of the floor-guy’s head and sail through the air stopping only when hitting another object below.

Once all the decorations are down: the tree box, the light boxes, and all the inside decoration/pretties – the real fun begins. The tree is fairly simple to put together, the lighting of the tree however; well that turns in a major fracas, every single year.

No matter the meticulous wrapping of those lights when they are coming down after Christmas, they somehow manage to mangle themselves into knots over the summer and come back out the next year looking like the conniving Grinch himself has been into that box.

All of these things happened the weekend after Thanksgiving at our home. Everyone is still alive, most of us are still speaking, and while we did not hold hands and sing Silent Night after it was all done, we did smile a lot, and tell each other how good it always looks when we’re done, no matter the struggle.           

Friday, December 1, 2017

When I Grow-Up.......

So for some of us, there is always a certain amount of drama and uncertainty, coupled with manic chaos and sometimes, though not always, high-pitched whimpers – that accompany each holiday and it’s many varied food preparations.

I’ll just begin by saying, no matter how much I think I am prior-prepped, no matter that I have made a list and checked it twice; somehow, someway I am going to forget something and you can bet your sweet bippy, it is not going to be something small or minor, and it is not going to be remembered in time to prevent a full-out panic attack.

The night of Thanksgiving eve, I was preparing as much of the food as I could ahead of time. The pie was made, the sweet tea was done, and the onions and celery for the cornbread was sautéed as well. 

As I was about the wind it all down, I thought to myself – why not just go ahead and mix-up up/crumble-up the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing. I could add all the dry ingredients ahead of time, and in the morning, all to do would be to add the eggs and the broth.

I opened the cabinet to retrieve the condiments for seasoning and as I reached into the cabinet I realized what I had forgotten – chicken bouillon. I had cleaned out my cabinets the weekend before and my old container was expired. I had thrown it away and made a note to myself to make sure to buy another – as I would need it. 

WELL GUESS WHAT?! It’s 8:10 pm, I had no make-up on, I had been scrubbing around in the kitchen all afternoon – and now here I was, running up town to the grocery store – looking like I don’t know what - in my pink rubber (yard) clogs.

I climbed into my husband’s truck, as he had driven mine to South Carolina for the holidays. I had ridden in his truck before, but never actually driven it. It’s dark. I can’t see what I’m doing. First off, I can’t even find the key on the ring I have in my hand. Everything else is attached – but I don’t see a key. I have to call him to ask.

There’s a button on the key fob that makes the key “pop out” he says – the action itself is scarily similar to a switchblade. I apologize for interrupting his dinner with family and I hang-up the phone.

I crank up the truck, but can’t figure out how to turn the lights on. I didn’t even know they made vehicles anymore that the lights didn’t “just come on”. I have to call him back. Again. He is trying to explain to me where the manual switch is for these lights. I’m trying not scream out loud, even though my brain is screaming anyway – THAT I JUST NEEDED TO BUY SOME BOUILLON. WHY IS IT SO HARD?!

I will say, the rest of the meal went off without a hitch. And one day, I really am going to be able to cook just like my Mama; calm, cool, collected – and FULLY PREPARED.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Let Us All Give Thanks

 It surely seems the older a person gets, the more he/she has to be thankful for, and the list of thanks is not what it would have been years ago, which still surprises even myself at times.

I’m thankful that this past year didn’t require a lot of doctor visits for me and my family, and for the ones that happened – all news was primarily good and everyone is reasonably healthy. People say it a lot, but it gets truer with every year that passes – everyday that you wake-up is another day blessed.

I’m thankful that I haven’t personally lost anyone to heaven this year which also becomes a larger possibility with each passing year.  

I’m thankful that I have a job, that everyone in my family who needs a job, has a job, and that we’re all living self-sufficiently and independently of one another – which means a lot to most folks. No one wants to have to rely on anyone else to have the things that life requires and whatever it is that they need.

I’m thankful that I can contribute to causes that need attention, and that I am able to give, however small that amount is, monetarily to raise awareness for subjects that need extra attention and focus. And I’m both proud and blessed whenever I am asked and able to give my time as well.

Our family is growing by leaps and bounds, and much of my family now are bonus , and I am thankful for new great-grandbabies, and great-grandbabies who are growing into beautiful little people.

I am thankful for the teenage grandchildren and young adult grandchildren who have almost all graduated from high school, some are enrolled in college, and all making their way through life with confidence and determination. And I am extremely proud of their parents, our children, who raised them to be that way.

And I am thankful and proud of my own children; they are both successful human beings, striving to make a dollar, helping people along the way, and doing good in this thing we call life.

I am thankful that I have a husband who is always willing to pull his weight and then some. He still works full-time just like I do, doesn’t mind washing and folding clothes, making a bed, or doing anything else around the house that needs doing. He’s a not-so-good-cook, but he can wash a pot and pan like nobody’s business!

And lastly, I am thankful to live in a community that looks out for one another. A community that bands together in times of need, and makes meals for folks, runs errands for folks, and simply comforts folks, in times of hardship or grief. If one person leads, we all pick-up our part in the load and follow. The compassion in this town is like no other.

My hope for you all is a safe and happy Thanksgiving and that you’re able to spend it with friends, family, and with people that you love, who will love you back. Because life just doesn’t get any better than that.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Change

I’ll admit it snuck up on me a little bit this year. It was already happening to me, affecting me, in ways that I hadn’t even acknowledged yet; much less truly realize it was happening.

It began with the first cold “snap” or even more accurately the first mild freeze. With that came all the things I have been waiting on since the last time I was sick of it in April – warmer clothes, less need for air conditioning, folks talking about the first bonfires of fall, and looking up recipes for new soups and stews to cook.

I don’t mind telling you folks that even though it wasn’t what weathermen would call a ‘big freeze’, it was adequate enough to kill-off a good bit of the golden rod that is lining the roads and filling the woods around here. That in itself was a huge help for many, including myself and my allergies.

It was the first official running-of-the-heater here in our house since the last time I forbade anyone to run anything but air! And believe me, it has to get below 68 degrees in my house before I even begin to consider turning that switch from a/c to heat. And then it’s only during the waking hours – no heat runs through my house at night; that’s what blankets are for!  

But back to my original point – about 4 weeks ago now, I began to crave soup. I think I have had it for lunch at least 2 days a week ever since the craving started. I didn’t think much about it at first, but then the cold-snap came and I began to put it all together.

And all of that thinking only got me even more excited about the next big change to come our way – Daylight Savings Time! From the time it changes in April every year, I am waiting on it to change back again in November. I never have been, nor will I ever be, one of the ones who you hear whining about how dark it is so early, or feeling like they need to be in bed by seven o’clock.

I love everything about it. I like that the sun goes down earlier, and that it rises even earlier in the mornings; suits me just fine! I cannot stand to have to get out of bed when it’s still dark outside!

I love being able to be in my bed clothes at 6pm if I want to and my house-blinds already shut for the night. And the only thing I have to say about the time difference itself is that I gained a whole hour! 

That’s right, another whole hour to sleep-in the morning of the change! Who the heck wouldn’t be excited about that? Seems to me when they snatch-back that hour in the spring is when you all should be so upset!

I’m pleased as punch about the early darkness, the colder weather, the warmer food and guilt-free evenings not spent watering lawns and flowers for an hour every day. Bundle-up – cause’ it’s here for a while! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Good Ole's Days are Gone

You know how when you get older, and you sit around and reminisce about how things used to be when you were younger, that if you could just re-live those things again, how happy you would be?

The neighborhood I live in is an old one, and by old I mean, there’s very little youth that lives around here. Therefore, no one comes knocking on our door for Halloween hollering Trick or Treat anymore.

The first year after I married my husband and moved here, which was about 11 years ago now, he tried to tell me that. We were shopping in Walmart and I was loading-up my buggy with candy and he was gently trying to tell me, that the candy would just get wasted, because his house didn’t get that kind of foot-traffic anymore.

Three weeks into November, and five bags of candy later left, I had to admit he was right, and I for once was sick of chocolate or anything that even looked like it was sweet.

So last year when my youngest son would be spending his first Halloween in his new house in a neighborhood that was swarmed with children every year, I got beside myself with excitement and prior planning for the big candy-hand-out night!

He said he wasn’t necessarily interested but told me I could knock-myself-out, he’d be in the house if I needed him, and to just have a ball.

I’m not about to tell you how much I spent on candy, my husband reads my stories and I like to sleep indoors, but needless to say, I had enough to operate for about 2 ½ hours and a half a million children!

But I have to say this, it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. It wasn’t even really like I remembered it being when my kids were younger, or when I myself was a trick-or-treater once upon a time – and yes, I can remember that far back into time.

I had grown teenagers AND adults alike, without even an attempt of a costume on, grabbing and digging for candy, bumping and running over the little ones to get to the bowl first. Many asking for bottled water because they were hot, wanting to go inside the house and use the bathroom, and letting me know which candy they did and didn’t like.

And when I did see adults in costumes, some of the women looked like they were auditioning for a spot on Project Runway. Adults do dress up for Halloween and that’s fine, but how about make it kid-friendly, or keep it contained to adult costume parties please.

It’s my opinion trick or treating is for children and it was my mother’s as well. Once upon a time when I was about 14 years old, my best girlfriend and I wanted to go out, not costumed, toting a pillowcase so we could get candy. She shut that idea down quickly, described all the reasons why, and never have I understood it as well as I did last year.

Nothing ever seems quite like you remembered it does it?

The Downhill Slide

How many times in our lives do we say or think “If I knew then what I know now…..”? There are many endings to that statement; that we wished we had made better decisions, taken a different road, respected that detour sign, or at the very least, maybe listened to our parents/elders a little more.

Every new year that I’m granted an extension to be here, to be a part of this world, to be a part of my family – I am thankful. But do I have wishful thoughts – yes, I have many.

I wished I hadn’t been in such a hurry. To grow-up, to be completely responsible, to be an adult, to be a partner in a bread-winner situation, to be a parent.

I wish I had enjoyed life as a learning adult a little more, traveled to more places, experienced more life, and met more interesting people.

I wished I had known more about myself before I tried to set-up life with another human being. I am sure it probably would have worked out a little better the first time around. And I wish I had known more about life before I decided to create one.

I wish I had grown up in a time when a secondary education was just expected and seemed less a choice. I don’t know who I would be right now, but I certainly hope that I wouldn’t be a fifty-something year old woman trying to find myself again at this stage in my life and wondering some days how in the heck I let this happen to myself.

In a few days, another year representing another number will have come and gone. And I will adjust and shake-off the small bit of sadness that always seems to accompany a higher number each time it presents itself.

But oh for the days when the numbers seemed to take forever to climb that mountain of time. It seemed we were never old enough for whatever it was we could not wait to do.

And now, I’m on the other side of that mountain and the numbers seem to fly right before my eyes, so fast, that some years, I think I may have skipped a number or two.

Wishes I have many, regrets I have none. So many things in life make me question that saying “everything happens for a reason”; but I also believe in it pretty much of the time.

I was made to be a Mama, and that I became one earlier than maybe I should have, well, that’s okay too. I have loved every minute of it, good and bad, sad and exciting – and I wouldn’t trade those life experiences for anything in this world. Especially now when they are adults – our conversations as almost equals and friends are priceless.

And even though I still feel like I’m trying to find my way, that’s okay too; because I’m finding it with one of the best partners in the world.

So I’ll see you all on the other side of a higher number of fifty-something – and I’ll be loving every minute of it.