So, today marks the last day of NaBloPoMo, and there are a few things I have learned by participating in this challenge.
1. I am not a journal writer (I kind of already knew that. Even as a kid, I did not keep a diary).
2. My reason for starting this blog still holds true. I started to share a message to other parents of mentally ill children and I don’t think that goal is going to change.
3. I will continue to write based on actual experiences…….but probably not daily.
4. Having to think of topics every day is exhausting. I admire people who maintain a daily blog….or multiple blogs.
5. Writing is a true gift and talent, but everyone should give it a go at some point in their lives.
6. It feels good to have made connections with other bloggers in this community.
7. I am a binge blog reader.
8. I am glad I don’t give up easily.
9. I am glad that it took place during November…..there is no way I could have done this while getting ready for Christmas.
10. Writing can be therapeutic.
Everyone seemed to enjoy my little family story yesterday….so I thought I would share a little family joke with you all, as well.
One day, when we were teenagers, my sister, Tina, had spent the night at a friend’s house. After stopping at the grocery store, my sister got some gum balls out of a machine by the entrance. My mother was trying to have a serious conversation with her on their ride home, but being over-tired and in a very goofy mood, my sister was not paying attention to a word my mom was saying.
After getting frustrated, my mom started grumbling. Tina took one of the gum balls (that happened to look like an eyeball), sat it on mom’s shoulder and said ‘I’ve got my eye on you’. Once my mom looked down at her shoulder, my sister threw the gum ball out the window and said ‘keep your eye on the road’. Thus began Tina/eyeball jokes in my family, years and years of eyeball jokes……..and every conceivable eyeball gift you could find.
Last year, during the Halloween season, I happened to see eyeball ornaments at Target. I decided to go back and get them, but they were sold out. I did a little digging online and ended up finding some. I purchased 4, one for me, my 2 sisters and my mom. I gave them with the rule that we each needed to put one on our Christmas tree. Tina, knowing how unbelievably o.c.d I am about my Christmas trees, told me that she would hang hers, as long I featured mine front and center….and didn’t hide it in the back. I agreed….and spent my holiday explaining the big eyeball in the center of my very traditional green and red tree. I plan on doing the same this year.
Holiday traditions tend to start during times of change. When couples meet, get married, have kids, buy a new home. There once was a drastic change in my life that caused such a tradition to start.
My older sister, Tina and I were raised by my dad in Connecticut. When we were in elementary school, my mom and step-dad moved about 2 hours away to Pennsylvania. For many years, we spent weekends, school breaks and summer vacations travelling back and forth. She and I had our ups and downs, as all sisters do, but throughout our lives, we were each other’s constant.
The summer I was 14 I found out that I would be returning to my dad’s on my own. Tina would be finishing out high school living with my mom. I was devastated. I didn’t know what I would do without her. I started high school as an ‘only’ child for all intents and purposes. It was a strange feeling for all of us.
Christmas time came and Tina decided to come spend it at my dad’s house. On Christmas eve morning, we decided to bake some cookies……something we hadn’t done in many years. There was a special sugar cookie that we made, it was shaped like a heart and had colored sugar in a rainbow pattern. Once they were in the oven, I started to feel ill. I ended up spending Christmas eve in bed with a fever and upset stomach. After the cookies were done baking, Tina came in and gave me the special sugar cookie. Still not feeling well, I put it under the little tree that sat on the nightstand in our room.
Once the holidays were over and I was putting away decorations, I realized that the cookie had gotten stale….but I didn’t want to throw it away. I sat it in a little basket on a shelf in my room.
The next Christmas came around and, as a joke, I wrapped up the cookie and gave it back to her. This became a long-standing tradition. After about 5 or 6 years the original cookie started to crumble, so we decided to bake a new one, used beads instead of sugar crystals and put a clear coat it. This year will be our 24th year to pass the cookie…..by far, the longest standing tradition in our family.
After eating a lovely dinner at a friend’s house today, the newspaper (well, multiple newspapers) were pulled out to rummage through for sale flyers. 5 women sat around and sifted through the many pages plotting their plan of action over the next few days.
I am not normally a black Friday shopper. About 10 years ago I attempted it with my sister and was appalled at women attempting to steal stuff out of our cart. Last year, my sisters were visiting here and we attempted Target….which opened in the middle of the night. We spent more time in the line getting in and the line checking out than we did actually shopping. I wasn’t planning on attempting it again this year….until I saw the Kohl’s flyer. There were some amazing prices on a few items that I thought would make great Christmas gifts for the kiddo (no, not a $100 50″ tv)……..and bath towels for me (exciting, I know).
This meant that I had to go stand in line with a bunch of people who were grumbling about there not being enough items in stock (they pass out tickets for certain items to the people waiting)……and complaining about people that they thought were cutting ahead of them. They then herded us in the door like cattle. A woman I was chatting with in line was shocked that I allowed her to go in ahead of me. I had no problems finding the items I needed. I then waited in line for a bit longer and had more people surprised that I was kind enough to let them stand in line with me so they could comb through a sweater rack in the center of the aisle…….and I offered another couple use of part of my cart, as their arms were full. It almost bothered me that people were so shocked that I was being polite. Why does shopping have to turn into a fight? I was patient……I wasn’t in a rush…..and I was calmly out of there within an hour.
I know, not the knock down, drag out black Friday story you were looking for…..well, in truth it was Thursday. Maybe there is something that happens after midnight that makes people nuts. Maybe it is waiting for a store to open by the light of the moon. From here on out, I will stick to my one-store-a-year pattern. It seems to be working for me. For those of you who brave the madness for hours on end…..I don’t know how you do it, but have fun.
It’s been that kind of day….you know the kind. The didn’t sleep well, roll out of bed way after your alarm, work in your pajamas, don’t brush your hair, no mood to talk to people, no appetite, only change to put on clean pajamas, curl up and watch movies, kind of day. Guess I am lucky that I work from home.
I hoping that tomorrow I have the desire to put clothes on. We are going to Thanksgiving with family friends and I don’t know if they would appreciate my current attire.
I have found that I am having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. This is the first year, ever in my life, that I will not see family at any time during the season. I knew this was a possibility when we moved south 2 years ago….but it is hitting me harder than I imagined.
Last year, my dad, sisters and nieces came for Thanksgiving and we celebrated Christmas the day following. I had decorations out and the kids all woke up Friday morning to gifts under the tree and filled stockings. The kids all enjoyed decorating an additional tree in the basement and we ate lots of food and cookies and drank hot cocoa…..and bagels (they brought them from the north).
This year, I figured I could force myself to get into the spirit by preparing the same way I did last year. This week I start to get the trees up, lights on and ornaments out….even some made. I thought it would make me happy…but really it just makes me sad. I am hoping that once I have everything done, I will sit in the glow of the twinkle lights and love the quiet of the evenings….as I do every year. But I am finding it harder to push myself than I have in the past.
I have decided to use the old advice that if you force a smile, you will eventually be smiling for real. So I am going to force a twinkle in my eye, a skip in my step and a merry tra la la in my voice….and maybe, just maybe my heart will fill with the Christmas spirit I want to feel.