My Not-So-Typical Christmas Tradition

Christmas.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  I love the beautiful decorations, the food, the parties, the food, the excitement of opening presents, and of course, more food.

Growing up, December was always a special time for me.  We would decorate our tree on my father’s birthday, December 9, (and many years later would celebrate my son’s birth on that same day!), and then we would celebrate my mother’s Christmas Day birthday.  My grandfather used to tell us the story of how Santa Claus brought my mother down the chimney to him, which, as a child, made me extremely jealous.

Christmas was full of love and happiness.  I was blessed!

Then, the unthinkable happened to my fantasy Christmas:  I got divorced.  Not just some easy-peasy, that-was-mine-this-is-yours divorce, but the “I kind of wish he’d get hit by a bus” divorce.

In an instant, my holidays were totally disrupted.  Suddenly, I only had my son with me for the first half of Christmas vacation, after which he would go to his father’s house at noon on Christmas Day.  Then he would return home after New Year’s Day.  It was agonizing.

One day, while visiting my eighty-something-year-old grandmother, she asked why I hated my ex so much.  I explained all of the reasons, and she listened quietly before saying, “What does it matter?  You’re divorced, but you have a child that loves you both and needs you to get along, especially now that the holidays are close.”

So, I went back home feeling like a first grader who just got scolded, and spoke with my ex.  After deciding to meet at the library (so we couldn’t yell at each other), we had a much-needed, long discussion.  For the first time since our divorce, we both agreed that we needed to put aside our differences and be parents to our son.  Civility wasn’t always easy, but we did it.

By then, he had married a very sweet lady and had a precious daughter, and one day, my son made a comment of how hard it was having to split his time between his parents on Christmas.  He wanted to spend time with us all, but having a big Christmas lunch at my house, followed by a big Christmas dinner at his dad’s house was just too much for him.

So, after great thought, and a few glasses of chardonnay, I reluctantly invited them over for Christmas lunch one year.

I know, I know….I can just hear many of you now saying, “I could never do that!”  But, let me tell you, when you know you’re doing something for your child, you can literally do ANYTHING.  It wasn’t easy, and there were times during dinner that I was tempted to stab my ex with a fork…but I digress.

It worked.

And just like that, we began a new Christmas tradition.  Each year, we would all have Christmas lunch together:  my son and his sister, my ex and his wife, my parents and grandmother.  When I remarried many years later, my sweet and understanding husband accepted our arrangement like it was no big deal. He saw that it was a good thing and welcomed my ex and his family into our house like they were old friends.

A few years have passed since we shared our last Christmas together.  Our son is nearly 23-years-old, and is venturing out as a young man, with a wonderful girlfriend who I hope will become part of our family one day.  My father passed away last year, and my mother moved to live with my 97-year-old grandmother.

Christmases are different, but I will be forever grateful for those wise words encouraging us to set aside our anger, forgive past mistakes, and put our child first.

After all, isn’t that what the holidays are really about?

 

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The Lunch Date

I’ve been trying my hand at writing short stories…Here’s my latest. The challenge was to write a short story on this prompt: When a man takes lunch to his wife’s office, he’s told that she hasn’t worked there in weeks.

THE LUNCH DATE

The smell of garlic wafted behind him as Roger stepped into the elevator. He pressed the button for Karen’s floor and stepped back and waited. He impatiently switched the bag of food to his other hand.

His heart was beating heavy in his chest like the bell sound the elevator made as it passed floors. He was both nervous and excited. He loved bringing lunch to Karen because it always seemed to give her such joy. Her co-workers were playfully jealous, and often praised him for what a great guy he was. They used words such as “devoted,” “loving,” and “thoughtful” when describing him, and it was good for his ego. He smiled as he stepped into the lobby and waved at the receptionist, who was on the phone and was too engaged in conversation for him to stop and say hello.

“Hi Cynthia,” he said to the tall, leggy blonde who passed him in the hallway. “Just came to bring Karen some lunch. I hope it’s still hot. Traffic was horrible on the way over.”

Cynthia, tilted her head slightly to the side and frowned at him.

“You’re bringing lunch to Karen?,” she asked curiously.

“Yeah. She said she’s been having a hard time at the office this week so I thought I’d surprise her. Maybe it will cheer her up a bit.”

The puzzled look on her face was fascinating to him. She looked up and down the hallway as if she were looking for Karen.

“Um, Roger,” she said slowly, “I don’t know how to say this… but Karen hasn’t been at work all week.”

“What do you mean she hasn’t been here all week? That’s ridiculous.”

He didn’t wait for her to answer. Instead, he brushed past Cynthia and barreled towards Karen’s office. The metal mini-blinds clanked loudly against the window as he forcefully opened the door. Even though the light was off, he frantically looked around her small office, as if she would simply appear out of nowhere. The small yellow light on her computer screen indicated that it was in sleep mode, and her chair was pushed in tightly up against her desk.

Karen was nowhere to be found.

He said nothing as he turned around to look at Cynthia, who had followed him into the office.

“Roger, Karen sent me an email last week saying that she had a family emergency in Charlotte and needed to take some time off. “

“Charlotte?,” he exclaimed, his voice grew higher as the panic set in. “She’s not in Charlotte! I saw her at breakfast this morning!”

He put the bag of food on the desk and reached into his coat pocket to retrieve his phone. Shaking, he clumsily tapped the screen on his iPhone and dialed her cell number.

Cynthia continued to stare at him as they waited for Karen to pick up.

“She’s not answering,” he said as he shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

“Maybe she went to visit a friend,” Cynthia offered, trying to extend a glimmer of hope. I knew she was going to get caught, she thought to herself. I tried telling her that cheating on Roger would come back to haunt her. I don’t care how good the sex is.

Roger paced back and forth, calling Karen’s number over and over. Still no answer.

“Why isn’t she answering? She always answers when I call.”

He tapped his fingers into words on the tiny keyboard.

Where are you???

Cynthia stood silent as Roger tried to rationalize Karen’s absence. He scratched his head.

“You know what? I’m going back to the house. Maybe she came home sick or something,” he said hopefully.

“Yeah. Maybe so. Let me know.”

Roger’s torment was apparent as he forced a small, worried smile at Cynthia as the elevator doors closed.

But as soon as the elevator started to move, that worry turned into a sinister chuckle.

He knew exactly where Karen was.

In fact, he knew where she’d been all week.

She was bound with her lover in an eternal embrace, rotting at the murky bottom of Lake Lanier.

Home Really Is Where Your Mom Is

For all of the moms out there who are sending their kids to college…

Home Is Where Your Mom Is

Featured on BlogHer.com

Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the “Captain” stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews & Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper…

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The Big C

In honor of World Cancer Day, thought I’d share this one again. Get yourself checked!!

Home Is Where Your Mom Is

I am missing a big chunk of my leg this week. No, I didn’t get bitten by a shark or attacked by some criminal with a knife.

I saw my dermatologist.

As many of you know, going to the doctor in general isn’t one of my favorite things to do. It seems like whenever I go to a doctor I end up with something smashed, something violated, or something involving needles or x–rays.

I do not like going to the doctor. I cringe when I hear “This will only hurt for a little bit.”

Seriously?

I don’t want anything to hurt. Ever. Not even for a little bit.

I’ve discovered with age that I seem to be allergic to pain.

Years ago I had a zit on my nose that wouldn’t go away. The more I tried covering it up with makeup, the more it seemed to say “Look at…

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More Stuffed Than The Thanksgiving Turkey

Ahh the holidays. I love them for so many reasons but especially for the food. I love to eat, and holiday food is the best. Turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, desserts, and breakfasts with bacon and eggs.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

From this past Thanksgiving through Christmas I ate like I was on death row and every meal was going to be my last.

Which is also why my pants began cutting off my circulation and my Spanx went on strike by the time New Year’s Day rolled around.

I had taken a hiatus from my dread mill, partly because of surgery to my leg last March but mostly because I was just about as productive as a slug.

So right after Christmas, when I put on a pair of jeans from my closet only to realize they were my husbands jeans – AND THEY FIT – did I decide I’d better actually honor my New Years resolution and start working out again as well as eating healthier.

Low-fat, low-carb…I cut down on bacon and other fatty foods. I’ve started eating so many nuts for snacks that I will probably grow a tail and climb a tree soon.

My new friends K and L talked me into going to the gym to do a “step” class. I don’t know if you have ever done a step class before, but it’s where an instructor has you stepping on and off a 6″ high platform while blaring music is pumped out of the speakers overhead and girls with stick-figure bodies in tight little workout clothes surround you.

I had taken step before a few years ago but I was not prepared for this one. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the moves were so fast that I’m pretty sure that I looked like I was doing “the Elaine” dance from Seinfeld while K and L were gracefully going through the movements with ease.

Me at step class

Me at step class

While they were going left I was going right. When they were going up I was going down. I was the complete opposite of what they did.

And with each break, I’d guzzle some water. Half-way through the class I thought my bladder was going to burst. I felt like a puppy near some new carpet.

After class, we decided to continue the workout with crunches. K showed me how to do sit-ups on a machine, and even though I had been doing crunches at home, it was clear that the ones I had been doing at home were the same intensity that a preschooler could handle.

The next morning, I had to literally roll out of bed because my muscles felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But, I went back two days later and my legs didn’t feel like they were full of lead anymore. And I actually enjoyed the class.

And I’m determined to honor my New Year’s resolution until I can no longer wear the same size jeans as my husband, and am back in my old clothes. And if that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.

Been Away!

Dear Readers,

Please let me apologize for the delay in my recent postings! My sweet husband encouraged me to evolve my blog posts and write a novel. I have finally finished it and it is now being edited and will hopefully soon be on it’s way to publishing. I will let you all know when it’s ready!

Thank you for your sweet notes telling me that you’ve missed my weekly posts. I should be back very soon (and will probably write one about my recent fantastic weekend at a family reunion!)

Camping Chaos

This past weekend, Dale and I went camping at our favorite place in the North Georgia Mountains.

We wanted to go a few times over the summer, but with all of the rain that we had, we cancelled our plans each time.

Then, the Weather Channel finally predicted a dry weekend, so we planned and prepared to go.

It seems that each time I have ever been camping, something completely funny has happened.

The first funny memory I have is when I went camping with my parents and Aunt and cousins when I was a little girl. We were all in bed sleeping, when we heard a loud racket. My father looked out the window of the camper and saw raccoons feeding on the cake that we had accidentally left out on the picnic table. From then on, it became known throughout our family as the “coon cake” story.

When I was in college, my sister and I went camping with her fiancé and his friend. We knew they were going to play tricks on us – plastic spiders, plastic snakes, etc. So we decided to “one up” them. Years before, our parents had gotten an album of “The Mating Call of the Wolves” as a gag gift. This was, of course, back when we had cassette tapes. We decided to fast forward a blank tape three-quarters of the way through, and then we recorded the wolves howling.

When we crawled in the tent that night, I pushed “play” on the tape player and we got in our sleeping bags to go to sleep. Thirty minutes later, the first “wolf” started howling.

We all sat up. “What the heck was that?” my sister asked. I had to stifle my giggle by burying my face in my pillow so as not to spoil the trick.

“Sounds like wild dogs.” The guys started looking out the zippered windows of the tent. (We had made the guys sleep on the outside edge of the tent because we figured if something attacked the tent, it would get them first.)

“Do you,” I gasped, “think they,” I gasped again, “can get,” gasp, “in the tent???” My sister and I were in tears because we were laughing so hard, but they guys totally missed it. They thought we were crying because we were scared.

“Sounds like they are on the other side of the creek,“ they said. “Maybe we can make a run for the car,” not understanding that the whining and barking was coming from RIGHT INSIDE THE TENT.

After ten more minutes of the guys trying to figure out how to get us to safety, they caught on. Their response? No escorted middle-of–the-night trips to the bathroom. Cathy and I were on our own.

Fast forward to 2008. I took my son, Matthew and several of his hockey buddies camping – two of whom had never been camping before. Besides the typical gross boy stories, my favorite part of the weekend was when they climbed in the creek below the hiking trail. Matthew had gotten an electronic device that played sounds of wild animals, and they would play barks and growls of fox and bears as people would walk above them on the hiking trail. I sat by the campfire watching and laughing hysterically as people would frantically look around trying to see if an animal was nearby.

Then, that leads me to this weekend’s camping trip with my sweet husband. It was our anniversary, so we looked forward to sitting around the fire sipping on wine, and just enjoying the quiet. The entire trip was so peaceful…until about 3 A.M. when an owl started hooting right outside our tent and woke me up. I could have easily gone back to sleep, until I noticed that our normally two-foot high air mattress was now so deflated that I could feel the rocks and sticks underneath the tent, stabbing me in my hip. photo_1

Besides the fact that Dale and I were so squished together that it seemed we had eaten magnets for dinner, we probably looked like two hotdogs in a bun. I started giggling and woke Dale up, who then proceeded to turn over and as his body weight adjusted the air in the mattress, I was catapulted off the other side.

So even though we both woke up each with a wickedly sore back and bags under our eyes from lack of sleep, I can’t wait until our next camping excursion.

Just to see what funny thing happens.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Where did the summer go? It seems that school was released last week! Where did all of the lazy days by the pool go? Why is it still dark outside when I’m getting up? When did we get back from vacation? How do I work my alarm clock?

That’s right. School starts today and all of the kiddos are going back.

Kids are complaining and mumbling about how life sucks, and how tired they are, and that the first day of school just happens to be the worst day of the WHOLE YEAR.

The obnoxious buzzing of the alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m. It’s the butt-crack of dawn and time to get my step-son up for the first day of school.

I shuffle into the bathroom and turn on the light. Good grief. I feel like a Gremlin. Bright light! Bright light! It’s so bright that it actually hurts. I take a horrifying glance at my reflection in the mirror. I look like I’ve been electrocuted. I really don’t like early mornings.

I have to force myself up the stairs to his room, knock on the door and turn on the light. Now he feels like a Gremlin.

He growls at me.

I sleep-walk into the kitchen and make a quick breakfast for him even though he says he doesn’t want much to eat. I pack a brown-bag lunch full of fruit, cheese, chips, yogurt, and a chocolate bar (I’m not a health food nut – he just has food allergies) and put it by his book bag.

Last night, I made sure new gym clothes were tucked away in his backpack. What seems like ten-thousand dollars-worth of school supplies have been placed in bags to be taken straight to the teacher’s desk. We almost needed to take out a small equity loan to cover the cost of all the supplies the school required this year. How he is going to carry all of this mess is beyond me.

His school uniform has already been washed and pressed. Socks and brand new shoes are placed by the bedroom door.

I confirm that his teeth are brushed, his shirt is tucked in, and his hair doesn’t show any signs of bedhead.

We jump in the car and head over to the school. It seems that every person in the city is in the car rider line today. Hopefully I won’t get in a wreck because I literally just pulled on a pair of shorts and tucked my night shirt into them. It’s going to be A-W-K-W-A-R-D if someone sees me.

He gets out of the car, tells me “bye,” and heads into the building.

Yep.

School started today, and for me and 99% of other parents out there, it’s THE BEST DAY EVER.

And since I’ve been done with school for years now, you know what that also means?

I get to go back to bed!

Toughness Comes In Many Colors

I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. I love camping and working on my house. I still like manicures and makeup and I love the color pink so I guess I’m a bit of a girly girl as well.

My step daughter recently decided that she didn’t want to wear pink anymore because she didn’t want to look like a little girl. She’s 12.

I tried to explain to her that there is nothing wrong with wearing pink and that you can still assert plenty of toughness when wearing it.

I told her about one of the best concerts I have ever attended – the Metallica concert. My dear friend, Kim, and I were standing in line, waiting to get in the arena. An older gentleman that worked for the arena was walking up and down the line asking to view inside people’s purses (just in case they were trying to smuggle in booze or guns). He walked by, checked my purse and went on down the line. A few minutes later he came back up the line and asked to check my purse again.

The third time he walked by and asked to see in my purse I started to wonder if maybe I had some underwear in my purse or maybe someone had stashed a Playboy in there. Finally, Kim, who was wearing the standard blue jeans and black shirt – attire that you would expect to see at a Metallica concert, said “Do you not recognize the fact that you have checked her purse two times already??!? She is
the ONLY person at this entire concert in PINK!”

Yep. You can wear pink and still be cool enough to go to a Metallica concert.

Recently, we took Bailey to the shooting range so that she could target shoot with a 22. Again, she had refused to wear pink that day, but she still had to wear my ear protection – which happen to be hot pink. She said she didn’t feel tough enough wearing the pink earplugs…that was until she saw my target covered in holes and me in a pink shirt and pink sound suppressors.

So yes, whether you’re rocking out to Metallica or shooting a 9 mm handgun, just remember, toughness comes in many colors. It just depends on how you wear it.

Just ask this little guy. And he’s wearing green. photo(18)

The Often Hilarious Miscommunication of Texting

I recently realized that my phone doesn’t ring any more. It just “pings.” That is, I only notice my phone when I’m getting a text message. I actually dislike talking on the phone so I don’t really mind it when someone texts me instead of calls me.

But there are lots problems with texting. Just ask my friend, who texted her husband a sexy message about what she wanted to do with him after he got home from work.

Problem was, she didn’t text her husband.

She texted her best friend’s husband.

And she found out about her error when he texted her back. Fortunately, he found the whole thing hilarious and didn’t text her back with some skeevy and perverted response.

My problem with texting seems to be the “auto-correct” feature, where the phone thinks you have misspelled a word and changes it to one it thinks you are trying to write.

One evening, I was sending a text to a friend about a triathlon I was participating in, and I suggested that she sign up as well. It was called the “Acworth Women’s Triathlon.” However, the autocorrect feature decided that Acworth was a misspelling, and changed the word to “scrotum.” So the text that she got indicated that I was participating in the “Scrotum Triathlon.”

You can imagine our hysterical laughter when she sent me a reply that she wasn’t sure that was a triathlon she wanted to participate in, but she found it ballsy that I was going to do it.

I have learned that before sending a text message, I need to read it thoroughly to ensure there are no mistaken auto-corrections.

photo(2)And then, there is my mother, who just got an iPhone about a year ago. We introduced her to texting and were thrilled that she actually caught on rather quickly. She picked up the texting lingo and abbreviations, and uses LOL (laugh out loud) often. However, sometimes she would send me cryptic messages that I couldn’t understand. Come to find out, she was just making stuff up.

It’s sort of like the girl who sent her mother a text with some news from college. Her mother replied with “WTF.” The daughter was horrified that her mother would reply with such vulgarity, and responded back to her mom, “I’m not sure WTF means what you think it means. What DO you think it means?”

To which her mother replied, “Well that’s fantastic!”

(For those who are not in the texting world, WTF does NOT mean “Well that’s fantastic!”)

The lesson here is that whether you are a novice or veteran text messager, just be sure to read what you are sending and also confirm it’s going to the right person.

Otherwise, that message you are trying to send to your friend saying you are ditching work so you can hit the lake might actually end up going to your boss.

And then you might get a reply of “WTF?”, and no, that wouldn’t be fantastic.