Passing the Baton

Linda1Christmas this year was a two-day celebration of giggles, cries of surprise, gift-wrap flying and for me at least a bit of nostalgia, a sense of melancholy even. I am uncertain why it was so poignant this year, why I felt so off centered and incomplete, but this year was off for me. This year I felt slightly disconnected from those I love, from the celebrations, from well from all of it. For some reason this year, despite being in the middle of it all for two days I simply felt isolated.

I admit there have been things on my mind. There have been some additional stresses in my life lately that have been weighing heavily on me and causing me some anxiousness; usually this wouldn’t change the pleasure I take in my family, especially my children and grandchildren. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy them either, truly, I did, my grandchildren are a treat and though it is a bit overwhelming now and then, I am fortunate in the women my sons married and the extended families they brought with them. We are the true American family, extended and expanded through multiple marriages. What makes us a bit different I suspect, is we have managed to keep ex’s close and engaged, thus children continue to benefit. Yes, this sometimes makes it strange, but it works.

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But back to the strange sense of sitting above it all watching rather than participating this year. Maybe it was simply so many of the traditions I grew up with were absent and I finally noticed, finally really missed them. Perhaps, it was the rest of my family was missing; all of my siblings some of whom I haven’t seen since my father passed away five years ago, my wonderful heart mother having passed only ten months earlier. With their passing, something went out of us all I think and we set aside some of the traditions we had all made fun of but in truth had cherished. Certainly one thing we lost was our sense of family, our bond. Even while still mourning my beloved parents, I mourn that loss just as much I think.

My cousin / siblings, don’t blink your eyes so quickly I am after all from Texas we do things strangely down here. Yes, my father married his sister-in-law and no it isn’t incest (my brother asked). 65.justloveyouIt was a match of the heart, a true love match after they had both been single for many years, her after being widowed and him after divorcing my mother. They had known each other for more years than they had been married and divorced combined. We all cheered their marriage and they brought us together as adults and created a large and loving family, though perhaps a bit on the odd side sometimes. We were a loud, loving and rambunctious clan. My heart mother welcomed all of us, along with spouses, children, step-children, partners and friends to Hearts Home with open arms. But Christmas time was the best time of all.

Christmas Eve, where we all dressed up in our finery. The women in satin, velvet and lace with make-up and hair done and high-heeled shoes. The men in suits and ties, if you had to wear jeans they had to be your Sunday-go-to-Meeting best. Children were even put in nice clothing for the evening. The Christmas Eve meal of so damned much food and so many types of cookies and candies, all of them homemade with love. The most important parts of the evening, the Eggnog toast, where each of us made a toast that we spent days thinking about and some man in the family always toasted the women in the family and all the other men groaned because that was going to be their toast. The reading of the Christ Story by my heart mother and the youngest grandchild and finally the singing of the carols which always ended with Jingle Bells, always and we all had bells on ribbons which we rattled at appropriate times.

I should add here, most of my family could not sing a lick. The singing of the carols was like fingernails on a chalkboard to even the most untrained ear, but it was tradition and it was fun. We all groaned, we all whined, but we all did it and we all had fun.

Gift giving was a managed affair, of course, we spoiled slightly any children but we did not exchange gifts between adults. There was an assigned name; you bought one gift outside of your spouse or significant other. Your gift could not exceed $50. Then we had the White Elephant gift market, all children under 18 left the room and the ruthlessness of the adults came out. This was a terrible and hysterical part of the night. Draw a number, pick a gift and open it. Better hope you got a high number, or your spouse got a high number. The higher your number the better your chances of getting something you want out of the pile of gifts in the middle of the floor. During each round, each gift can only be exchanged one time, so once you open your gift look around the room at the other gifts that have been opened, want something else? Take it and give them what you have, they then look around to see what else has been opened; if they want something else (other than what you just took from them) they do the same. It is a ruthless game! There were always some really good gifts and some really stupid gifts. We had such fun.

At the end of the night, we played games. Usually board games until we were tired. Though sometimes we played billiards and sometimes cards. Adults in one part of the house and young ones in another.

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

Christmas day was more relaxed though we had the morning presents for the children under the tree and the big family dinner in the afternoon. It was always Christmas Eve that was special for me. It was always that night that set the tone. I loved Christmas day because we were all together, comfortable and talking, playing games and spending time. But it was Christmas Eve that held so many traditions, even before Hearts Home, even as a child some of these traditions were already part of how I thought of Christmas.

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I suppose as new generations take over the celebrations they create their own traditions. This year I think I just missed the old ones.

Red Hat for Red

redhatOne must wonder what we are coming too in this world, what we are becoming. My friend who is generally not one to rant, not one to open the windows and scream into the wind, not one to open the door to her world and show her personal fury has done just that. As I read her justified tirade, I was ravaged by the heartlessness shown her by those who surround her. Truthfully, I wanted to jump on a plane with my cowboy boots firmly in place and go stomp on some people’s heads.

Well stomping on people is wrong; you and I know violence never solves anything. Thinking about it surely does make us feel better sometimes though.

When I consider what my friend, Red does for others, what she accomplishes every day I am dumbfounded. It amazes me, always her capacity too reach out and share of herself and her knowledge and experience, rarely getting redscarlettthanked, rarely getting much in return. Then I smack myself in the forehead, I think how little help she has, day in and day out; living on top of a mountain one mile past where the hell am I in South Carolina, with two young Autistic children and not one single bit of help from anyone.

Want more? Please read what Red has to say about the State, the City and just how heartless people really are here.

Read Red’s Story

Random Thoughts after a Day at the Mall

Babies are not in most cases Beautiful

Sorry Moms and Dads, you are the only ones that believe your newborn infants are the

Mona Lisa, NBC Image

human version of the Sistine Chapel. When parents proudly show me pictures of their new creation, gibbering at the perfection of their red-faced hairless wonder, here are my standard responses;

  1. Lovely, you must be so happy (he/she) has finally arrived. Congratulations (this is my first attempt at kindness).
  2. Interesting child, I am sure they will be quite bright (sarcasm is free and generally goes directly over the head of the proud parent who is still in throes of passionate first love with child).
  3. Hmmm, did they use forceps? I am sure nothing was permanently damaged, perhaps it is just the lighting (sarcasm again goes over the head of the ecstatic parent).
  4. Finally…..He/She looks just like you, I am sure they will grow into it.

Parents are Deaf, I am Not

Women were provided with maternal instincts to prevent them from eating their own young. This is a true statement. The rest of us must obey laws that prevent us from beating your children when they act out in public places. This is also a true statement.

You have been listening to that high-pitched wail for so long you are immune, the rest of us are not. Do the public a service when your child begins to get loud, otherwise act out remove them. All you need to do is step outside and beat them; just a couple of good swift swats straight across that narrow behind of theirs will stop that bad azzed behavior straight away.

Restaurants – I am paying to enjoy a meal with spouse, friends or business associates. Why do you believe a perfect accompaniment to my meal is the sound of your child? Worse, why have you brought your child in public prior to teaching them basic table manners?

Stores & Malls – keep your child on a leash or in the cart. Just because they want to wander, doesn’t mean they should. Who is in charge? Should the safety of the child be considered in this case, your fellow shoppers do not want to be accosted by them or have to take them to lost and found when you fail to manage them adequately.

Finally – my house! If I send an Adult Only invitation to a soirée please do pay attention to that part that says Adults Only. Either decline the invitation or get a babysitter, there will not be one onsite. Your bad azzed children may be the very reason for the specificity of the invitation!

When you do bring your children, keep them under control! On those occasions they are invited along with you, please remember; My house is not kid friendly. I expect that you will respect I am an empty nester who doesn’t provide ‘child’ entertainment on a regular basis.

Airports & Airplanesrequires an entire post all of its own.

I don’t want anyone to think I hate children, I don’t. I do however, dislike intensely parents who don’t educate and train their children to behave properly in company and public. I am not overly fond of parents who bring endless streams of pictures and ask strangers and casual acquaintances to fawn over them.

We all love our own children; sometimes we love other people’s children. If we are honest, though we rarely love or even like ill-mannered children, even our own. Most of us at one time or another have wanted to walk up to some parent in a store or restaurant and ask them to beat their child or at least leave so we could enjoy the remainder or our outing in peace.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to this than others, if I offend my apologies. But then if I offend I suspect it is because you know I might just be right.

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