Category Archives: Holiday hell

Holiday hell

I have a hard time finding just-right gifts for some of the people I love. You know who you are.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to get the perfect gift for each person on my list. And this is an impossible task. I know this.

Just like I know exactly how to lose weight.

But do I use any of this important knowledge? No. I realize the people I care about don’t care if I even give them anything. I know they will be happy with whatever I select. So I shouldn’t stress about it so much. But I do, despite herculean effort, I still do.

In the end, I’ll either find the perfect gift, or give something I would like. I guess either way, it works.

I may have overcome my Christmas tree thing, but I don’t know I’ll ever be able to conquer this one. It is what it is.
Oh well.


Even good stress is stress.

Holidays kill me. I gain weight. I feel lots of pressure to bake, decorate, make everything perfect for my family. I always want to make things wonderful for them. But they don’t pressure me.

I do it to myself.

I’m working a lot of hours until December 19th, then I’m off until New Year’s Day. The big paychecks will totally balance out my luxurious time off. I will be able to enjoy Decky’s entire winter break with him. And Owen. And Ryan on his days off. And Caitlyn will be off school too. And Stefanie and Kevin and Dad will be out to visit after Christmas. I can’t wait!

I only have to get through the next ten days, then I can relax and enjoy. I will sleep in, stay in my jammies all day if I want to, take long walks in the cold, make cookies, watch my morning shows, read. I will have time to send out Christmas cards (maybe), shop for gifts, decorate the tree (when we get it). I will cocoon myself in the coziness of my home, surround myself with people I love, listen only to soothing sounds, do only good things for myself. I will take fun field trips with the kids, find new and different adventures, learn new things.

The intense stress I feel now is only temporary. I can get through this. My rewards are so great!

Thoughts of Christmases past

I remember getting to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house early in the afternoon. We would wait all day. We’d have deviled eggs and pate on crackers, watch TV, have dinner, and wait until 10 pm (I think) to open the presents that were waiting for us under the tree. Greg would get so anxious. Grandpa always used big C9 colored light bulbs on his tree. It always was the kind with tiny needles. I think he used to have bubble lights on it too. I always thought it was so beautiful.

Ciocia Jan always had Christmas Eve at her house. We would always make sure Gram got the first present. Ciocia Jan’s parties had the most and best food: pancit, ginger beef, mostaciolli, ham, you name it, she had it. And the most and best desserts, too. She made us sing carols to all the neighbors and break open a pinata outside. She also had Santa come visit. I think she went all out because she loved us all so much. She wanted everything just right, and did her best to create memories and traditions we would always remember. Even though she was bossy, I’m thankful she did that for us.

I remember doing the paper routes with Timmy and Greg during the Christmas season. They would get tips, so it was fun. It was always cold and snowy but we didn’t care.

Getting the Christmas tree was always traumatic. I am still in recovery about that, but I’m getting better. Enough said.

We would go to midnight mass. I would sing in the choir. I wore a dress and nylons. One time I got dressed in my closet and ran into the door. Another time I tripped going into the church, ripping my nylons and skinning my knee. I always loved mass at Christmas. There was something special and mystical about being out in the middle of the night with many other like-minded people. The songs transported me. I still consider singing my way of praying, even if I don’t believe the same things I used to.

We used to watch all the Christmas specials: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Donny and Marie. I loved them. I feel bad they really don’t make specials anymore.

I remember making cookies ever-so-quietly in my tiny garden apartment while Stefanie was sleeping in the next room. I was watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on my 9″ black-and-white TV with the volume at a whisper. I had a fresh-cut $10 tree someone brought me back from Wisconsin in their pickup truck. We were so poor, but it was one of the times I was the happiest.

I remember the first Christmas Eve I had to let Stefanie go with her dad. I was distraught. I couldn’t stop crying. Bill, who I had been dating for only two months, came over with some champagne and sat with me for a little while. I was so glad he did that. It meant a lot.

When the kids were little, Bill and I used to stay up very late Christmas Eve night putting stuff together. We’d eat a bag of M&Ms and watch Christmas shows.

I remember when we lived near Chicago, how we would stay put at our house and wear our jammies all day. We would open all our gifts, then Dad and Mom and Greg and Amy would come out. We would open more presents, then Bill would make big breakfast, and we’d all crash and nap wherever we landed.

One Christmas Eve, Orphie at four pounds of fudge while we were at mass. We put the kids to bed, and Bill and I stayed up watching the dog pace, vomit, poop, drink, and repeat all night. We were sure we’d have to tell the kids the dog was dead Christmas morning. But Orphie survived it.

We got Daisy on December 23rd. I kept her in the bedroom with me on night while I was wrapping gifts on the floor. We didn’t know each other well. I spoke to her words of love, and pet her gently. Suddenly, she took off and started doing crazy-laps all over the bedroom, tearing wrapping paper, scaring the bejeebers out of me. I think she was happy.

I remember the Fiber One Christmas. You’ll have to ask Bro about that one.

These thoughts of Christmases past comfort me. I have had so many good Christmases. There’s just so much love to remember.


I can’t believe it’s frickin’ November!

I didn’t experience it myself since I was at work all day, but it was about 78 degrees and sunny today. Right now, the windows are open and the fans are on. By the time we wake up, it will start to rain and the temperature will drop throughout the day. But we need the rain so desperately, I don’t mind a day of indoor activity.

The inspector from the city approved our deck builder’s post holes, so tomorrow Owen and I will go with him to start buying building materials. This will be a big fun thing for O’Boy. Then, hopefully the cement will be poured and the posts will be erected very soon. I can’t wait to see actual progress being made on this deck already.

We had a great Halloween. Owen and I went to Decky’s school party, where Decky performed yoyo tricks for his class, and Owen and I helped with games and treats etc. The girls all kept picking Owen up and fighting over him. He loved it. We came home for a rest and some TV time (while I vacuumed and finished making dinner), then everybody came over for food. After dinner, we went trick-or-treating in my friend’s rich neighborhood. Andrea and Charlie gave us beer, the kids got candy, and Koby got to scare people by jumping out of bushes at them. The kids ran up and down hills and stairs and were worn to little nubs by the end of the night. When we got back to the house, we stopped and visited at the neighbors’ party next door for a short time. Then we ended our day by collapsing in our respective beds.

Luckily, trick-or-treaters and neighbors saw some flames licking up Andrea’s and Charlie’s house before any damage was done. Seems a landscape light caught some dried pine needles on fire. We have a Fire Warning out here, you know.

Now’s my down time. Tomorrow will be busy and rainy and windy and cold, but at least I’ll be home and with Owen. And I received three pounds of sweet Missouri pecan halves in the mail today – I can’t wait to make some spiced nuts and trail mix with them!


Tomorrow will be a crazy day.

In the morning, after I take Decky to school, I’ll pay bills, start a pot of chili, clean the house a bit, and enjoy a smidge of alone time.

After lunch, Owen comes over and shortly thereafter, we get on his costume and head to Decky’s school for the class Halloween party. We will park very far away, because EVERYONE comes to the school Halloween party. We will watch the parade, help with crafts and games and treats, then haul everything home.

I’ll finish making dinner, which will also include a vegetarian option, then get ready for our guests: Dani, Tommy, Miles, Cait, Koby and Owen (maybe Ryan?). After dinner, we’ll take the kids out to trick-or-treat, meeting up with Decky’s friend(s) along the way. We’ll dodge the neighbors partying in the driveway next-door, and hope they haven’t lit a fire – there’s a Fire Warning out for our area.

We don’t have to worry about handing out treats because we never get any trick-or-treaters. The weather should be wonderful, the haul should be impressive as usual.

Funny how I sometimes look forward to going to work, just so I can relax.