Remind Me Again What Day It Is Tomorrow!!

Ever since Nat’s two daughters have been having money problems, we all came to the conclusion that we would only spend what money we had on the four grandchildren. Of course, the grandchildren were a lot younger when this was decided and of course, being little ones they demanded more. Nat and I had also come to the conclusion that we should only buy one large item we needed for the house or for personal use and enjoyment. One year, we bought a big screen TV, another year we purchased a new stereo set while in Florida and yet another year our new bathroom renos would be our gift to each other. At that time it somehow seemed right. The money was tight once we moved into our new little home and there was so much that needed to be done. Every penny was going to count and we felt pretty good about the whole thing.

As times have changed, naturally, so have we. These past three or four Christmases have been boring to say the least (except for family gatherings) and every year at this time we have to keep reminding ourselves that it is, in fact, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. With my emotional ups and downs I’ve also been having bouts of depression – waking up Christmas morning with nothing around the tree. No gifts to each other, not even one big purchase. We have it all! We’re also saving for more work to be done around the house and there’s nothing left for either one of us to buy for each other. With childhood memories bouncing around in the old brain along with waking up early Christmas morning, it confirms I am, in fact, getting older by the day and reminiscing a little too often. I really do miss those Christmas mornings. I keep blaming Nat’s two daughters but I know in my heart it was the right decision at the time; even today they continue to struggle financially.

This whole scenario was also the same with all of my sisters and brother. We’ve all got families of our own to take care of, and it’s become harder and harder with each passing year to think of anything that the others might want.  Plus with so many of us (adults, nieces, nephews) it’s also become expensive even if we put a monetary limit on the gift – which makes choosing even more difficult. This year, however, I decided enough was enough.  My little mini-stroke had proven to me once again (the first time being my transplant) that life was too short and I was taking it for granted. The hell with them all – I bought each one a token gift to say “thanks for being there”. And so it is I’ll have a box full of gifts, along with their usual tin of homemade cookies, to deliver on Christmas Day when we gather at Tam and Daryl’s for Christmas Dinner. I can’t wait, and yes, I know it’s an ego thing – but it makes me feel ever so good and satisfied. So there!!!

It goes without saying that I wrapped most of Tam’s family Christmas gifts this year. I get such joy out of doing that, and it helps a lot to put me in a somewhat Christmas spirit. Without the wrapping I think I’d go batty somehow. It’s just not Christmas without it. Plus I know I’m doing Tam a huge favour by taking that task off her hands. After all she has enough to do for her family – buying the gifts, keeping her house in order, taking care of her husband and two kids and their routines and even hosting Christmas dinner this year. It’s the least I can do to ease some of her stress while filling a lot of my empty and boring hours at home. I hope I can continue this little tradition and I hope I can keep the promise I made to myself for 2014 and beyond – a new and more “laid back me” (let’s see how long that one lasts, shall we!!) , along with starting up my own little Christmas tradition. It’s ME and my crazy little mind that matters. No one else is going to do it for me!!

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.