Monthly Archives: December 2011

Jumbled Jubilee

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Jumbled Jubilee

In looking back at 2011, the one thing that was constant in my life was change.  My whole life, environment  and body have changed.  At times I feel as if I have been in a wind tunnel struggling to hang on as events blew past me at breakneck speed.  Hence the image of the young woman whose car turned into a wind tunnel.  Of course as usual I was responsible for creating some of the tumult, and some was created around me.  I guess if I am still standing at the end of this crazy year, that says something.  Not sure what exactly, perhaps I am just a glutton for tackling too much at one time.  Let’s see if I can sum up 2011 by using the predictable list method:

  • renovated our house  (It went from shabby to chic.)
  • fired the cleaning service after they left my dog outside all afternoon  (Luckily he was not hurt, killed or lost.)
  • hired a new cleaning service  (Magda, Carmen and Luz are like family.)
  • gave time and money to charitable causes and helped several local families in need
  • planned my wedding and reception
  • married
  • went on our honeymoon – AWESOME!  (I knew I married him for a good reason.)
  • inherited husband’s children  (the old “for better or for worse” part of the vows)
  • inherited husband’s previous spouse and her provocations (see above)
  • planned and hosted a cider making party for husband’s daughter (see above)
  • said goodbye to my beloved canine companion of 14 years, Pumpkin
  • had surgery twice
  • had a concussion  (Gardening as a hobby really can be dangerous.)
  • visited eccentric family members on both sides  (I think his vows came into play here.)
  • adopted a new puppy – see above (It must be love.)
  • made some new friends and was dumped by one – She was supposed to be my maid of honor. (Luckily my gay brother could fill in with short notice. He still likes me thank G-d.)
  • had pheresis (Wouldn’t want to miss out on the fun of that.)
  • traveled overseas and domestically
  • read several great books, poems and short stories
  • attempted to improve my boss’s day by reducing her workload (I remember what it is like to have a stressful job such as her’s)
  • attempted to make my colleague at work smile  (I owe her so much.)
  • attempted to ease the burden of our patients, families and staff at the hospital (They face incredible hurdles and devastation with courage and conviction.)
  • lost my temper (Okay, is it any wonder after reading my list?)
As my late brother-in-law who lost his battle to lung cancer in 2010 said, “Life is all about love, baby.”  So keeping that always in mind, I am tired, but very pleased and grateful to G-d for my list.

So in 2012, I just hope to slow myself down.  I think after the year I just experienced that I do not need to have any goals or direction.  I think I should be able to watch Netflix, read and order in without feeling the slightest guilt.  But wait…

I hope to show my new puppy in obedience, travel to three destinations with my hubby, write my first book, spend more time with my mother and hubby’s parents, read multiple books, coordinate a Toys for Tots campaign, improve the relationship with the previous spouse for the youngest daughter’s sake and keep up my fitness and gardening schedule.  Hey, maybe this will be the year I actually get to become a real housewife?  A girl can dream, can’t she?

Any highlights of 2011 that you wan to share?  What are your dreams for 2012?

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Holiday Harangues

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I have never received an annual Hanukkah letter from any of my Jewish friends. If I had it would have probably gone something like this:

Dear Friends,

Once again this year we disagreed about everything including what to put in this letter. So, we decided to forget it and just write, Happy Hanukkah.

The number of annual holiday update letters is certainly on the decrease as we receive fewer each year.  Most of us have moved over to social media sites such as Facebook as the primary way to update others on family news.  The virtual image of the family has replaced for the most part the Christmas letter image of the family.

The letters I do still receive contain the following elements:

  • a straight couple
  • at least two children, by all accounts perfect
  • if applicable, perfect grandchildren
  • vacation summaries, usually involving at least one trip to an Orlando based theme park
  • announcements of professional successes and/or academic accolades
  • a family dog – not strapped to the roof of the car for those Mitt Romney fans out there

So why should the letters bother me?  Why can’t I  just smile and be happy for our friends or distant acquaintances?  Maybe I read too much John Cheever?  Maybe I am just too cynical?

I can’t help but wonder if the happy facade isn’t just that, a facade, and that underneath lurks a dysfunctional family dying to break free.  Could the actual story contain the following elements instead?

  • husband & wife have boring sex maybe once or twice a month, if lucky
  • husband is having an affair either with a guy at the gym or a colleague at work
  • wife is having an affair either with a woman at the gym or a colleague at work
  • kids are in therapy
  • daughter has an eating disorder
  • son smokes pot
  • kids feel distanced from father and know the marriage is in bad shape
  • father laid off and home about to be foreclosed
  • mom has a shopping addiction and is running up the credit cards

Okay, I could go on and on.  So what if some element of the above is true about your own life and you receive the annual happy letter from the Wackos?  Will it be the one item at the holidays to throw you into a deep depression?  I guess that is my true worry, that receiving a letter filled with so much happiness and perfection might make someone else feel bad about their own not-so-perfect life.  Maybe a lay off has devastated your family this past year, and you are just trying to make it; do you really need to receive letters glorifying the perfect lives of others?

I spent many years as a single woman at the holidays.  Some of my single holidays were wonderful and some were rather bleak.  When I lived in Maryland, I spent several holidays with a Borders colleague and her mother.  All three of us were divorced and good cooks.  We would enjoy a good meal, share some turkey with the dogs and spend the afternoon drinking wine and playing cards.  Another holiday in Michigan was spent with a woman and her husband.  She was a wonderful cook, however he did not compliment her very often about it or much of anything.  I brought one appetizer which he proceeded to rave about and then began flirting with me in front of her.  I made a hasty exit before her looks turned me and my dog into literal minced meat pie.

My favorite story of the single Christmas was shared by a good friend whose single sister, I’ll call her Sally, spent the day with a colleague from work and her family.  A family member attending the gathering was developmentally delayed and kept forgetting having been introduced to Sally.  Every 30 minutes or so the family member would loudly ask again, “Who are you and why are YOU here?”  UGH!  That really just sums up how we have all felt at one time or another surviving another round of holidays as the “single”  person.

My first Christmas with my husband was wonderful.  We did not yet have to experience the awkwardness of the blended family Christmas and we enjoyed a lovely meal and romantic evening.  It was just the two of us.  We did not have any crazy family or friends to manage and we enjoyed every minute of it.  This year we will go to the movies with his children on Christmas Day and then enjoy some good food.  Hopefully, as the years go by the awkwardness will lessen as we adjust to this new life of getting along together.

So to all those who still write the Christmas letter, I beg of you move on over to Facebook with the rest of us narcissists or better yet, start writing your own blog.   Happy Holidays!

Do you still send cards or letters at the holidays?  Do you have any advice to help me cope with the phenomenon of the Christmas letter?