Reflections on Christmas

This is the first year I feel settled with Christmas. Over the years, I have sometimes felt excitement, anticipation, anxiety, dread, but this settled feeling is new.  It is not bad. I decorated, but didn’t worry what others would think about my mishmash of things that make me happy – my dog ornament tree (I wish I could find another ornament tree for my cat ornaments, but these kind of trees seem to have gone out of vogue); my music boxes that play Christmas music, my little woodland animals (Lady disassembled one).  I hung shimmery things from our antler chandelier, and put the Santa ornaments I used to collect on all the door handles and hung them from the window locks.   It’s not anywhere near the chic Christmas displays I would have been trying to copy when I was younger.  When I was child, I used to think it was terrible that my grandparents did not decorate beyond a small artificial tree and swore to myself that I would never become like that. Yet, here I am, the same age as they likely were at the time, with no big tree or fancy decorations.  Yes, my grandmother was right again about never saying never.

I got presents for people, but this year, I don’t feel the anxiety over whether they will be pleased. I didn’t feel the need to make every package a masterpiece as I  used to do.  One year I dehydrated orange and lemon slices and used them on packages with cinnamon sticks and cloves.  That year I stressed over glue gun whisps. This year I mostly let the stores where I bought things wrap the presents. The dogs will get new squeaky toys and new heated beds.  I know that Talu and Lady get very excited about the new squeaky toys, but this is our first Christmas with Parker, the Blue Tick.  Judging by his likes, he’d probably just be happy with a treat or a bone.  And my friends and family will know I was thinking of them.

I made some homemade vegetable soup yesterday, so that is what Lamar and I will have today on Christmas Eve. I used to go all out to find something special, but really, is there anything better than homemade soup and bread?  Tomorrow I will cook a rack of pork, my “famous” broccoli soufflé and some baked sweet potatoes.  I’m going to splurge and make two individual trifles for dessert.  It will be a simple meal, but we will enjoy it.

I feel fairly happy.  Part of that is my desire to put behind me the sadness that has been this year. Loss of a beloved dog, household problems, my anxiety of getting my hound’s heartworm treatment behind us. Next year may have new issues in store, but right now I am blissfully ignorant about them.

It will be just Lamar and me and the dogs this Christmas.  I wish there was more family, but my family is scattered  up north and Lamar’s family have their own families, and my friends are all over the country.  I hope that some time this year, some of them will find themselves in Central Alabama, and come by to say Hey, as we do in the South.  In the meantime, I’ll just say Merry Christmas.

Until next time.  Elsie



My Friend

I have a friend that I worked with over 20 years ago.  When she left our office, she and I lost contact.  Then one day I thought of her, saw that she had lost her father and I wrote to her.  So we emailed once a month for a couple of years.  She even came to visit me and we had a good time.

In April of this year, I suddenly stopped hearing from her.  Of course I was worried because she is single and lives alone in Maine.  But I also know that she is a real introvert and sometimes communications are just too much for her.  But at this point, I decided to give her space, and just figured that she had lost interest in communicating.  At one time we both had cats and she still does; while I no longer have cats and now have dogs.  Her interests are in quilting, and cats, while mine run to art and my dogs.  We no longer have work in common, having retired some years ago.

I had not given it much thought, being consumed with Browning’s death, Parker’s heart worm treatments and the million little things that make up a life —  until, I received a birthday present from her.  I wrote and thanked her and told her I was surprised to hear from her, having gone so many months without from her. She wrote back to say that while she reads emails, she can’t really bring herself to respond.  She says that she can’t bring herself to open written letters.  All of this does not surprise me,  as she is an aerospace engineer and an introvert.  Most engineers are not known to be social butterflies. But now she has sent me a Christmas present as well.

I have to say that I was puzzled as to what to do next.  Miss Manners says that you don’t have to return, in kind,  every gift you are given, as long as you accept it gracefully and offer thanks. But that doesn’t seem right in this case.  So this afternoon, I sat down and ordered her Burmese cat calendar, a book I think she will enjoy and a gift card to spend as she likes. It will be delivered on Thursday and hopefully it won’t appear to be a last minute thought.   I mean, who doesn’t love a GC from Amazon?  I hope it will convey that I value our friendship, however infrequent our contact.   Because she definitely is one of those friends with whom I can go on with our conversation, even after  8 months and it is important to cherish those kinds of friends.

Until next time, Elsie

Daily Prompt: Missing

via Daily Prompt: Missing

So many kinds of missing.  There is my new and expensive pair of tweezers that are missing, and my berry blush.  Things I cannot find, although I remember  buying them. Sometimes I find things that are missing in the back of the car, having escaped from the bag they were in.  I have been missing my PAM spray that I knew I bought and couldn’t find, and is now resting on the floor of the 3rd row of my SUV.  I miss clothes that are lost in my closet, and I am still missing one of my favorite shoes.

Then there is the missing of people and animals.  My middle sister and I used to be close, but for reasons known only to her, we are now distant and she is cold to me.  I miss that relationship, but I guess she didn’t value our relationship.  I miss friends and family members who have died.  I particularly miss my uncle who was always a hoot to talk to, and hearing his stories about animals he was feeding or trying to help.  When he died, so many of his friends told me how much they would miss him because he always listened to them.  I still miss my grandmother, although she died 38 years ago.  She told me a lot of things that she was right about, and there are still so many questions I would like to ask her.  I miss our German Shorthaired Pointer that died this year – his hard headedness and his affection.  And I still miss all the cats that I had, each one with their personalities and their grievances.  A couple that would be in my lap if I even looked like I might sit down.

I miss my younger body.  I used to be able to withstand amazing amounts of stress, and activity and never feel the effects.  I miss the way clothes used to fit.  I miss joints that didn’t crack and a back that didn’t ache. I miss my gall bladder now that I know its absence is one of the reasons for my digestive woes.  No one ever told me that having it out would result in digestive issues before I had it out.  I miss the days when I went to the Doctor and they said “see you in a year” instead of “there is one other thing”.  I’ve always been near sighted, but I miss the time when “near” was further out than it is now.  And I miss the days that I didn’t have to repeat everything three times to my husband, who is now severely hearing impaired.  I miss being able to go to restaurants with him and actually talking, before back ground sounds and other people’s conversations overwhelm anything I might say.  And I miss going into a room and actually remembering why I walked into it, instead of having to apologize to the dogs that I created a false alarm.

Most of all, I miss a past that doesn’t really exist except in my mind’s eye. The longing for holidays that were warm and comforting, instead of my mother drunk and trying to start a fight, not to mention the excitement of thinking about what Santa might bring.  I definitely miss the farm set my grandparents bought me one year from the Sears Catalog.  I miss the fun of picking out just the right thing for someone, and then actually wrapping it in pretty paper with a big bow, instead of stashing it into a gift bag. And I actually miss the years when present didn’t mean a gift card, because everyone already has more stuff than they know what to do with.  And I miss happily anticipating a new year, instead of just wanting this one to be over, and wondering  with trepidation what the new one will bring.   And I miss that I missed turning 60 having forgotten an entire year, still thinking I was 59.  (My husband accused me of just wanting to lie about my age).

But thankfully, I can still walk out on the porch and see a random crane, or hear an owl or the wind blowing through the pine trees. And I can still see the dogs racing across the yard, and listen to them bay when they have something treed.  It almost makes up for all my missing.