Good-Bye To A Topsy, Turvy Year

Another year is coming to a close. One of my worst mentally.

From the beginning of the year Nat struggled with his back – major pain, along with physical and mental strain became the norm for the first six months. Day after day, week after week he struggled to live his daily life and I came along for the ride in order to keep him company and avoid guilt whenever I tried to go or do something on my own. The mental strain became very apparent about six months into 2015.

Around June or so, our marriage became very close to falling apart. I literally had my hand on the door knob ready to leave Nat for good. I was not going to put up with one of his daughter’s spoiled, selfish and arrogant ways any longer. These were the worst arguments we had had in over 20 years of marriage, but at least a lot of truths were spoken between the two of us, with Nat finally being able to open up about things he was keeping secret in order to avoid hurting feelings between myself and his daughter. Tension still exists in our family, at least from my point of view, but we settled into the final half of 2015 coping with other matters that kept our minds busier elsewhere.

As I was ordered to lose at least 10 pounds and keep the diagnoses of pre-diabetes in check, Nat and I knew it was going to be a challenge for me. With my addiction to chocolate, starchy foods and other good stuff the battle was on. I’m stilling fighting the battle and have almost won the war. Exercising has become a daily routine and my addiction to chocolate has been substituted with small nibbles of dark chocolate which deplete my cravings during the day, and I’ve been able to allow myself some “cheats” now and again when warranted on special occasions. I’m forever thankful to an extremely supporting husband who has encouraged me with praise, helps with meals that are healthy, nutritious and delicious. Of course, he’s been that way all of his life, but has sacrificed a few healthy habits during our marriage, except for eating fish. (To my Scottish hubby it’s a sin not to eat fish).

Since my marching orders to lose the 10 pounds, I’ve lost close to 20 and have maintained my blood sugars in the low 6’s on a daily basis. Naturally, I’ve had one or two slips, but life is not perfect and neither am I. At least Nat and I are so much happier than the first half of the year and for us, that’s all that matters right now – our own sanity.

A small slip back into a minor depression befell me mid-December, but Nat and I talked it out and I soon came to the natural and only conclusions I could – I can’t do a damn thing about the situation I was depressed about!! 

With new resolve, I erected our small Christmas Tree the first of the month and even decorated a small portion of the living room for Nat and myself. Throughout the month we went about our normal business, after all we literally had no Christmas shopping to do. Nat had his yearly physical, I had my hair appointment (blond streaks) and blood work, and along with other usual errands we were able to glide through December without a problem in the world (along with some pretty boring days scattered here and there).

I still needed to feel like it was Christmas, despite the balmy Spring-like weather, and arranged to wrap all of the parcels for one of my sisters that still has two teen-agers at home. As usual, I enjoyed the task immensely and it did, indeed, perk me up enough to get in a somewhat joyful spirit. We did the usual visitations, as in past years, by going to Laura’s Christmas Eve, albeit earlier this year (4:30 pm), which gave us the opportunity to attend my sides’ Christmas Eve get-together at the Irwins’ by 7:00 pm. Psychologically I was elated. I knew I needed to see and speak to my sisters who could converse in matters and events that adults talked about, along with reminiscing and other family matters that mean something to me. Nat’s two girls don’t watch the news,  have no knowledge of current events except what they read on Facebook, which isn’t necessarily a reliable source, and they have no comaraderie with me or even themselves. At least Laura’s former mother-in-law is always in attendance and her and I usually find lots to talk about as Nat and his two girls talk amongst themselves.

Christmas morning was soon upon us, but for some reason, Nat and I were exhausted. We could only conclude that Christmas Eve was more than we could take now. We’d not been socializing except with our great friends and former neighbours, and were not use to the boisterous outbursts of my side of the family, along with the exuberant laughter of everyone in attendance at the Irwins’ Christmas Eve party. We had such a great time our bodies were in shock afterward and needed time off. So we sat quietly until it was time to drive into Thorold and visit with Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget to see how their Christmas morning went. As usual, the whole family was munching on their traditional bacon-on-a-bun as we walked in the door. The presents were strewn all around the tree and over-flowing onto the sofa, but everyone was more than ecstatic with what Santa had brought them. We had a great time and enjoyed getting caught up on what two of our four grandkids had been up to.

Within a couple of hours we were back on the road home to grab a bite to eat, relax for an hour or two and then make the mashed potato contribution for Christmas Supper at Claudia’s for 4:30 pm. Again, Nat and I had a fabulous time. Claudia’s moist turkey was its usual hit, along with other delicious contributions from other family members. The after-dinner party was full of great reminiscing (you tend to do that as  you get older) and laughter abounded upstairs and down (nieces and nephews playing poker downstairs). I hated to leave but darkness was all around and the time was late for the 35 minute drive home. It was a great night.

Boxing Day found Nat and I knackered again, but well worth every moment. We sat around and looked at the thank-you gift from Tam (a jigsaw puzzle with the theme “Ground Hog Day” – my birthday), another jigsaw gift from Michele with the theme of Santa Clauses, a beaded bracelet and earrings from Gail, and the most delectable vanilla cupcakes covered knee high in buttercream and coconut from Claudia. She makes her usual jaunt to this bakery in Oakville and thinks of me, which I deeply love her for. Naturally, the cupcakes will get frozen and brought out one by one on those “cheat” days I allow myself.

I, for one, am glad this year is coming to an end, but am also grateful for at least six months of somewhat stability in my life. My attitude has changed somewhat since I’ve been losing the weight and maintaining my blood sugar. I have so much more energy, am back to baking without getting hot and tired and my relationship with Nat has been stable and supportive, as he now knows my true feelings about certain family matters, which has taken over 20 years of walking on glass to get across. For that I’m truly grateful and love him even more.

Warming Up Those “Chilly” Winds

Things got a little silent the rest of the evening after our blow-out. We sat in our recliner chairs after supper and spoke not a word. We only spoke when we had to. Shall we say that it was certainly a “polite” evening of light conversation, if any, and concentrating on whatever the hell was on television. Clearer heads would prevail in the morning???

As things happened, the Driver Emission Test was booked for 1:30 the next day. The two of us were again being polite to one another until Nat returned from Canadian Tire with the required certificate for the licence sticker. Unexpectedly, when he returned home he asked if we could finally complete the renewal form online. As we were now very proficient in completing the damn thing it went relatively easy, including the portion for the Emission Test and without any hassle the licence sticker was renewed and the Government explained our new sticker would be in the mail within a number of days. Again, not a word spoken, but I had that sinking feeling that Nat had asked some questions at Canadian Tire as he always likes to get the facts. My word is never enough and he always needs to confirm with a third-party.  From the renewal form it was very apparent that the Emission Test Certificate was required or it would’t have gone through. My words from the previous afternoon “The Driver Emission Test has to be completed because there are asterisks beside each portion and the form won’t get submitted unless they are” began to ring true. Nat had his doubts and only Nat could satisfy them. I understood his concern that he wasn’t given enough warning and yes, that was my fault. WE should have checked the form so much earlier to see what was required. I’m only glad the whole damn affair is done and yes, I’m going to delete our account for online renewal (which can be done) once the sticker has arrived and yes, with Nat’s consent, approval and a note made to file!!!

Getting back to our usual selves took yet another day. The frosty air began to melt only because I had the oven on again and got back to some more baking. I also had a couple of small Christmas gifts for the grandkids I wanted to wrap. We don’t exchange gifts, but I’m their step-grandmother and I can do it if I want – so there!! Along with some cash each child will get a pair of funky mittens as an excuse for me to wrap something and an excuse for them to unwrap. It makes me feel like it’s Christmas and that’s got to be good for anyones blood pressure!!

Nat has finally returned to the garage (his workshop) and has begun work on my little side table for my recliner chair. He’s had a small problem with the small size I’ve requested, but he says he likes a challenge. So far the little cabinet is looking fantastic even though Nat has his doubts that I’ll get anything in it. “Are you sure you want it this small?”, he asked. Yep, I took the measurements and if I’m wrong then I’ll have to live with it. If it does end up looking goofy in the living room then I can always find a small nook to stick it in!!!!

Our friend and old neighbour from Green Maple landed in hospital last week. We were going to go for our pre-Christmas visit when I caught her hubby off guard. After the phone rang and rang and rang, Cecil answered the phone while he was huffing and puffing and talking as if he’d been awakened from a long winter’s nap. Turns out he had just returned from the hospital, had been there since the middle of the night, and had returned home to get some sleep while his dear wife was being taken care of by professionals. When Floris returned home and was able she gave me a call to re-assure us she was alright, had explained what had happened and we agreed that Nat and I would call in later. Nat and I were worried about her and her hubby and are anxious to see them to make sure things are good. They’ve been married 61 years now, which is a testament to their love and adoration for each other and it’s only been a couple of times that they’ve ever been apart from one another. Dedication!!

I’m now waiting on dear little sister for her Christmas presents so I can get them wrapped and returned for under their tree. It’s been a treat to wrap the presents to her family these past couple of years. I get just as excited as her two kids when I check things over to see what each received. Plus I can’t believe how well she does for everyone on her list, including mom and pop-in-law. I’ve also discovered that her family likes the new cookies/biscuits that I’ve learned to make – Empire Biscuits. I’ll sneak a few extra in their family cookie tin only because her son, Zach, knows how to win my heart!! So looking forward to Christmas Dinner at their  house this year.

Christmas Sucked!! I Want A Do-Over, Except I’m Too Tired.

Yeah, bah humbug to me, but  that’s the way I feel. This year my heart just wasn’t in it. Oh, I was at first, but then it went downhill right after the girls, Nat and myself decided not to exchange gifts. The girls were willing to buy for the two of us, but we felt that would have been a bit one-sided. We were asked by the two of them to concentrate our extra dollars on the grandkids. The two girls couldn’t come up with anything they wanted and it was therefore decided that all four of us would not buy for each other. I truly felt the idea was a good one at the time. We’d save a little bit of running around and maybe a few extra dollars, as would the girls. One was struggling financially because of her personal situation and the other has always insisted that we concentrate on her children rather than herself and her hubby. Of course, we ignored those requests over the years, until now. This year, however, we all made a joint adult decision, which much to my selfishness I regretted deep in my heart but my adult head knew it was the mature thing to do.

I may be close to having my 62nd birthday, but in my heart of hearts I still get excited Christmas morning. Without fail, I’ve been up with the birds every December 25th for as long as I can remember – even when myself, a sister and my brother spent a Christmas away from home while living in Edmonton. Our parents had shipped all of our presents to us and those packages sat under our little tree that was decorated with strung popcorn, a few ornaments and some tinsel. The three of us had a great time despite our loneliness and a phone call from home was the icing on the cake. With each passing year I thought I would grow out of this immaturity and accept Christmas like the grown-up I was suppose to. This year it came back to bite me and in spades. As selfish as it sounds, I still like to unwrap a gift or two – even if I know what’s inside. It somehow affirms that someone thought about you at one point, even if they did just decide what item on your list to get!!

I’m also a person who loves to wrap gifts. Not to brag but I’ve become pretty good at it and have wrapped presents for a couple of my sisters who don’t have the time nor the inkling to do so. I was overjoyed and loved every minute of it – despite the fact that it can be very tiring. The end results were worth every ache and pain that slowly crept into these old bones. This year I was only able to wrap around 8 gifts and half of those were done in gift bigs – of which I abhor!!! Yes, I know they’re useful, easy and a great time-saver – but I’m a purist and want to hear the tear of paper as it’s ripped from the sides of the box contained therein. I love to see big bows, colourful ribbons and little doo-dads atop a parcel, along with pretty little labels that say from us to you, with love. But yes, I truly understand why some people use the bags and not everyone can be a lover of wrapping parcels.

Waking up Christmas morning this year felt like any other day to me. There wasn’t going to be any “Christmas morning” for either of us. Instead, we were up early to go to each of the girls’ homes to watch our grandchildren open their gifts from us and all the while I felt as it I was going to their birthdays. All four grandkids were thankful for what they received and the requisite hugs were given, but by that point I was ready to go home, rip down the tree, put the decorations back into storage and just get on with the rest of the year. Somehow I made it through the day and once home, Nat and I had a nice quiet afternoon and sat in front of the fire with our grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries for supper. As Nat and I didn’t exchange gifts either, we agreed to buy an Apple TV for ourselves. That was about the only thing on my ‘Wish List’ I thought the two of us could use and after explaining all of its wondrous virtues, he agreed. I ordered it online from the Apple store and when it arrived a week before Christmas we left the FedEx box under the tree. It wasn’t until we had finished our meal that I decided to open up that little box and take a look at the instruction book. What the hell, I knew it was easy to set up but it gave me something to do while watching nothing on television.

With the arrival of Boxing Day and my side of the family coming for dinner, Nat and I were kept busy getting ready for the festivities. This was going to be the day, I told myself, that my spirits would perk up and I’d feel much better. Not seeing my sisters often enough since moving to Ridgeway, I knew the evening would be filled with laughter, stories and enough activities to keep my mind off how I was feeling. The table had been set a few days before as a time-saver, Nat put the turkey in the oven that morning, I pre-made the stuffing and popped it into the slow-cooker ready to be turned on. We were ready and good to go until our guests arrived.

With time to relax before our guests arrived we felt things were going pretty good, but something went horribly wrong after that. As Nat carved the turkey we discovered it was over-done. Apparently the battery in the meat thermometer decided to run low during the cooking process. We kept wondering why the bird was taking so long and once discovered what had happened, it was too late. The breast meat fell apart in Nat’s hands as he was trying to carve. We thought at this point the gravy would moisten things up, but as luck would have it, Nat had a hard time trying to thicken it up. I’m thinking we made too much and it was going to take a long time, but by now it was too late – our guests were arriving. – and the gravy was going to flow like coloured water!! I’m now thinking my family was lucky they contributed dishes to the meal – at least they’d have something to enjoy! One guarantee in the whole process was dessert – with Claudia’s cake, Gail’s pies, Thamazine’s tray of delectables and my cookies there was at least goodies to look forward to afterwards. I know it was my fault, but I honestly can’t remember eating my meal.

Somehow we made it through and despite how I felt about the meal, the company was wonderful. As mentioned, there were lots of laughs, a good game and some good conversation. In my heart of hearts I know it’s not about the meal, it’s about family (who were all crammed into our little dining room like sardines in a can, with overflow in the kitchen), and I for one have great family and lots of love around me. My body, however, wasn’t listening to anything my heart told it. The bones were tired, the brain was dead and the arthritis in my hip decided it was time to rear its ugly little head. I was tired, a bit depressed about how I was feeling and just wanted the whole affair to end. Maybe a good night’s sleep would help. It didn’t!!

With a couple of nice highlights – a few gifts from some wonderful family members (the chocolate bark from the Irwins, the beautiful ornament and goodies from Gail and Bonnie, the gorgeous little cake from Claudia and the bottle of wine from Liz) this whole affair is over and I’m looking forward to 2011. Always trying to look on the positive side of life I’m going to try my damndest in 2011 to keep my mouth shut, my heart in a warm place and my brain out of the clouds!! Happy New Year, everyone.