Tag Archives: Christmas and holiday season

It’s a New Year. Time to Get My House in Order.

2014-12-24 18.12.51I sort of mean this literally, and if you could see my house right now you’d think: yes! Please get your living conditions under control, woman! But I mostly mean it figuratively. For me, getting my house in order this year means getting a handle on some things that I struggled with in 2014.  Many of my friends have posted inspiring resolutions on their Facebook pages about how 2015 is going to be their year.  This is the year to travel the world, start that dream business, get back into phenomenal shape, rebuild important relationships, get the most out of life!

Unlike my publicly ambitious friends, I didn’t post anything definitive about my goals, but that’s because I’m kind of superstitious.  It seems like as soon as I put my plans on paper or make a verbal admission of intent, something goes terribly wrong.  It’s better if I let the wind carry me along and present spontaneous opportunities.  It probably makes me seem a little shifty and unreliable, but it’s a system that works for me.  So this year, I decided to be stealthy in my resolutions, take the time to reflect carefully on exactly what I want to improve before going crazy with promises of self refinement.  But here’s the thing — whether or not we like to admit it, whether we like to make resolutions or keep things loose, we all start a new year with expectations of what the future holds and what we might be capable of with our many talents and shortcomings.

"Let's spend Christmas and New Year's thi...

A Navy quarantine poster from World War II  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a partial Type A person, I of course had expectations for Christmas and New Year’s, and as usual, my expectations failed miserably in the face of what I felt was God’s rather morbid sense of humor. The plan was that after Christmas we would pack the car and drive out to Kansas City to stay with my sister and brother-in-law for a few days.  The guys would spend some time hunting in South Dakota and be back for the New Year’s Eve party that my sister was preparing.  We would also squeeze in a belated birthday party for my husband, complete with homemade cake and splendid gifts.

I imagined days filled with craft projects, refreshing walks in the country, shopping trips in the Kansas City suburbs, and cooking adventures with my daughters and sister while the menfolk were away.  We would stay up late watching movies, cuddling on the over-sized couches in our cozy pajamas, eating big bowls of popcorn.   It would be so wonderful, and such a special way for our whole family to recharge before diving back into the chaotic routine that would come with a new year!  Best of all, my husband would  search through the house for me at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to give me a romantic kiss and set the tone for our new year together!  Well, nothing happened as planned.  My husband and I did manage a New Year’s kiss, but how romantic can a kiss be when you are planting a smacker on your husband while holding an ice cream bucket for a puking child who has caught the stomach flu just in time for the disco ball drop?

We spent a hellish week between Christmas and New Year’s fighting off a horrible intestine churning virus.  It was like a horror movie; every night at bedtime we huddled under the covers wondering who would be next.  When we heard footsteps rushing down the hall and the bathroom door slamming shut in the middle of the night, we knew.  We knew.  The virus picked us off one by one — first my brother-in-law, then my husband, then me, and finally my daughters on New Year’s Eve.  My husband and I, still recovering from the virus ourselves, were up all night, each nursing a very sick, miserable child.  So instead of imbibing on delicious food and drink and squeezing in last minute celebrations with loved ones, I spent my final week of 2014 obsessively swabbing down the communal bathroom with Clorox wipes, running to the grocery store for Saltines and Pedialyte, sanitizing record breaking amounts of barfy laundry, and keeping a careful tally of the dwindling toilet paper supply.  By New Year’s Day, I was a sobbing mess.  Thus my plans for a glittering entrance into 2015 were ruined.  I didn’t triumphantly stride so much as limp pathetically into the new year — battered and exhausted.

My wiped out family needed a vacation from our Christmas Vacation after what we had been through!  The whole experience left me muttering to myself, “Man, I just can’t catch a break!”  But, after putting my hurt feelings aside for the moment, I managed to focus on the real issue.  My house has been out of order for some time, and I want to straighten it out.  I’d like to improve certain aspects of my life in the coming year.  And now, with nothing but my priorities laid out in front of me, I have a simple question to ask: what do I really want to accomplish?  Getting my house in order involves more than just having every thing organized neat and tidy, put away where it belongs.  It means changing my attitude, gaining a more positive outlook, building relationships, and developing better habits that will ultimately lead to the goals I want to achieve.  Sure, things like mini-epidemic viruses will change my short-term plans and temporarily slow me down, but if I allow such obstacles to prevent me from living a happy life, then there is no one to blame but myself.

So, I have now made my relatively simple, but very important resolutions for 2015 and kept them close to my heart.  It could take longer than expected to get my house in order, but I will follow the wind and learn as I go.

Happy New Year!

~G

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Cozy and Warm by the Fire?

My middle child woke up very ill this morning and was really bummed because she would have to stay home from school and subsequently her Christmas Concert tonight.  I tried to make her feel better by promising to start a fire in our fireplace so she could enjoy the cozy feeling of being near the lit up Christmas tree and burning logs.

My husband is classically the one who starts the fires in our family. A former Boy Scout, he is amazing at getting a fire started without using an entire box of matches and a ream of scrap paper.  I am pretty bad at starting fires but wanted to make my depressed child feel better, so I fussed with the fireplace for nearly an hour.

We had a roaring blaze one minute and a fizzling black void the next.  My daughter stopped caring about the fire but I was determined to succeed.  Even if it meant burning the house down.  Finally, after a dozen matches gave their lives and an unspeakable amount of paper crumpled for the cause, this happened:

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I pumped up the Christmas songs and my little girl curled up on the couch to read in front of the fire.  It lasted a glorious 30 minutes.  Now the fire is only in the embers and the logs are half burnt, but my daughter feels a little better.  I didn’t burn the house down, and when my husband gets home I think I will ask him for a Boy Scout fire building lesson!

—G

Hey Kids, Christmas (Probably) Isn’t Cancelled!

Sleigh

All I want for Christmas…

I spent much of the night on the edge of my seat watching the news to find out just how much of  a cliff we would be hanging over after Capital Hill finished with us.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I survived a war.  I also feel like things are far from over and am going to approach the holidays with a wartime rations mentality.  After screaming at my television, “you stupid jack-wagons don’t know how to balance a budget!” I decided to rethink my holiday budget because it won’t balance either if I take the same road as our leaders.  I just looked at my Christmas list conceived after one too many trips to Keep.com whilst drinking screwdrivers and it totals at least one mortgage so far.  That isn’t counting the other Christmas list scrapped together from randomly whimsical ideas imagined over the last few months.  None of the gifts are even items my family members need, just excuses to spend money.  Hmmm, sound familiar?

Before my family ends up in serious financial trouble, I am going to reprioritize our holiday budget and spending rules.  It would be pretty hypocritical to criticize the government for failing at managing the country’s funds if I am plunging my family into major debt just to buy the shiniest new gadgets.  Besides, what does it teach my kids if I demand that my government straighten up and be fiscally responsible, but then I do the opposite in my own home?  I read a profound statement posted earlier this week that went something like this: you can’t have your cake if you didn’t work for it and earn the money to buy it. Or at least you shouldn’t.  So why am I so tempted to charge all these cool shiny gadgets and toys on a credit card?  Why am I wanting to have my cake and eat it without actually earning it?  But more importantly, why am I tempted to do this knowing that it is so hypocritical when I have been yelling at the smug little faces on my television screen for the last three weeks?

Wondering if in just a few short weeks we could once again be on the brink of disaster has made me really take a step back and reflect on what is actually important.  The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time when families and friends come together and share happy memories, feasts, and gifts.  The public tone this year may be more subdued after so much disruption and discontent.  But perhaps this year the tone will be more introspective of what truly is important.  I don’t have to think twice about it; if given the choice between shopping sprees, decadent feasts and sumptuous gifts, or time with loved ones, I would prefer the time with those I love.  Besides, no governing body can ever take that away, no matter how destitute they make me.  Remember that, people.  It’s the intangible attributes such as love, loyalty and kindness  that really create wealth and prosperity.