Archive for December, 2009

Christmas 2009


I’ve been spending some time in the last week thinking of Charles Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol”.  Have I become like Ebenezer Scrooge?  Where has the joy of the holiday season been?  I’ve been very caught up in the rush of the season: we had a large Christmas party to host; like everyone else there were Christmas presents to buy, decorating to be done, cookies to be made and these cards to be written – I stressed through every minute of it.  I’m so often caught up in what needs to be done that I forget to slow down and be thankful for all the good things that have happened this year.  I need to change my mindset!

What were the good things that happened this year and for what are we thankful?

We were fortunate enough to be able to take a long trip with all three kids to North Carolina and the Outer banks, Richmond, VA and the Confederate White House; Appomattox Courthouse; Kitty Hawk, NC; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lexington, KY.  Being a huge Lincoln history fan, I was delighted that we were able to tour Mary Todd Lincoln’s family home – I am an American history geek and I am proud of it!!  It was so great that I held my kids hostage and dragged them with us to all the historical sites, you can imagine how they just loved it.  Anyway, they will thank me some year for it.  Probably.  You wait and see.

We really enjoyed the east coast trip and we all learned some new things, especially the pronunciation of the phrases, “Thank Yew” and “Yur Wulcum.”   We have all been saying them just like that at home but my kids are not happy when I do it in public.  (I also dance in the grocery store to the Musak version of Jive Talking by the BeeGees and they don’t like that either).

Mike and I visited northern California with our dear friends Mark and Kate in October- think San Francisco, Monterrey and Pebble Beach; Napa and Sonoma.  We really love San Francisco and any time Mike is in wine country he is very happy.  The shipments of wine came rolling in soon after we returned home and I grew tired of Mike asking me to stay home to sign for the dang deliveries.   But I’m thankful that he is so knowledgeable about wine, it sure makes my life more grape flavored.

I’m also thankful that I decided not to become a teacher because if I had I would no doubt either be writing these cards to you from some sort of a women’s correctional facility or be crayoning my cards from the funny farm.  I volunteer from time to time at school, mostly at the elementary school where the kids really believe everything that you tell them -which is lucky for me!

It has taken me until my third child is 11 years old before I finally realized that I am not good with kids.  Yeah, I know, it’s a fine time to think of that now!  I was helping Abby’s class with Colonial Days back in May when I had a shocking epiphany:  5th grade boys do not want to learn how to do counted cross stitch – they are more interested in poking each other with the needles and tangling the thread.  I’m very thankful that I had the good sense to switch to another station before I either pinched off someone’s head or throttled a teacher for placing me there.  Let me say here that I am also thankful that there are crazy people in the world who actually WANT to teach and are good at it.  Bless their souls; they have my sincere thanks and admiration.

All three kids started in new schools this year- Abby is in 6th grade (middle school), Emily is in 9th grade (high school), and Will as a freshman at the University of Iowa in Political Science and Economics.  There was a lot of readjustment, crying and carrying on – most of it done by me trying to get myself under control.  All three kids have settled into their new environments and are doing well.  Mike and I are adjusting to having just the two girls at home; for him living with three females is sort of like a wild PMS roller coaster.  Well!  You have to make your own fun, don’t you?

Emily recently completed driver’s education and soon she will be driving back and forth to school on her school permit.  Hopefully she will not be calling me from a ditch like her brother did.  To be fair he only did it once, but once was enough for my fragile heart.  Abby is playing basketball and is active in band as a trumpet player – she is a happy kid and both girls are very busy all the time.

One of the pivotal events of the year was the discovery of a creature living in our garage.  Do any of you out there watch “Monster Quest” on the History Channel?  This next story smacks of that:  remember back a few years ago when I had a mouse flinging itself around with me in my car?  Well, I can’t forget that experience and have been in therapy ever since.

It started calmly enough- I started noticing puddles of liquid all around our garage and being the inquisitive gal that I am I tried to figure out what was causing them.  Was it coming from the cars?  It looked like melted ice cream – did someone in our family have a secret Dairy Queen obsession?  The neighbor came over with her dog and he went berserk.  Because I am smart, this is where I started to suspect Sasquatch or that creepy monster from the Legend of Bogey Creek – ya see, I learn a lot each week from Monster Quest.

Mike was unconcerned other than he was annoyed that I kept badgering him (was it a badger??) to figure it out.  One calm and clear Saturday morning we decided (well, actually I decided – I am kind of bossy) that that the jig was up.  We started systematically removing everything from the garage and lo, and behold we found jillions of animal droppings.  Shall I describe them for you, or does that fit with the “thankful” theme of this holiday letter, i.e. ‘I’m thankful that Korky did not describe the size or appearance of the aforementioned droppings”?

The evidence caused me to think of the chipmunk that I had chased out of the garage just days previous to our fact-finding garage mission.  I swear to you, if Alvin took up residence in my car I would blow it up.  Really.  I would. The car.   And the chipmunk.

Mike armed himself with a shovel and about that time he started cussing like a drunken sailor and his yelling in the garage echoed loudly and permeated the tranquil neighborhood on Saturday morning.  He’d seen the furry beast and it was hiding behind my great-grandfather’s trunk.  Here’s where I started to scream like a crazy-mad fishwife and I sprinted to the safety of our car parked right outside the garage in the driveway.  From that vantage point, and through the barely cracked window lest the beast come after me, I yelled directions to Mike how he should kill it and how he could possibly avoid the razor-sharp teeth that were threatening him.   He really appreciated my advice.

The rest of the story is gruesome and grizzly and Steven King himself would have been running like a prissy little girl out of the garage.  I wish I could say that it ended well; the PETA people would have liked that so much better.  All I will tell you is that I am thankful that I have me a “Manly Man” and that my dear husband saved my life and those of our children.

Baby Peter Cottontail was not so fortunate- he went the way of the mouse in my van.  The moral of this story is you don’t want to be a rodent anywhere near me or my loved ones; I will hunt you down.  Or I will get Mike to hunt you down.   I may run screaming for safety, but I am still here to tell the story and to warn you all of the many rodent dangers this holiday season.   Be thankful that you have not been invaded by evil rodents; the little things in life really do mean a lot.  And I don’t mean little bunnies.

In closing, I’d like to send you the Selkirk Grace which scholars believe was written by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, it sums up how I feel about 2009:

The Selkirk Grace

Some have meat and cannot eat,
And some would eat that want it,
But we have meat and we can eat,
And so the Lord be thankit.

To the one of you this year who told me that I am living a Charmed Life I want you to know that I absolutely know it.  My dad and my sister are well this year after some health scares.  My kids and my husband are nuts, but happy.  Our extended family is well and our friends are wild and great fun.  I am thankful for all that I have and my ability to enjoy it, even if I grouch about the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  We are all blessed this Christmas season.  In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one!”  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!