Thursday, December 27, 2007

And a Good Time Was Had by All...

...especially me. Christmas is over, after a marathon weekend of activities. Alissa and the boys arrived Saturday, and the festivities began. We looked at Christmas lights and had a nice dinner out that night. Sunday, all the other kids joined us for the immediate family Christmas gift exchange. All three of the little ones were really wound up, and it was hard keeping them occupied, but we baked cookies and read stories until it was time to open the mountain of gifts that were under the tree. It was a camera and watch Christmas for me. I got an EasyShare camera and printer, a video camera, and a camera that was built into binoculars. Unfortunately that one didn't work. We also received wonderful gifts from all the kids--a hand arranged picture of all three families, a digital photo frame, and a new set of silverware to have in our new house. All the gifts were very special. After that, we had a nice supper of slumgullion and visited until evening.
Monday- Christmas Eve- Chip, Shira, Doug, and Kellie had to work during the day, so Alissa and I took the boys to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which they seemed to enjoy. I know I did, but I sure had culture shock when I saw what it costs to go to the movies these days. I seldom have the chance to actually go to the theater to see a movie, and when I do, I usually only pay for my own ticket and refreshments. We went to a matinee, and 4 tickets cost $25! Seems kids don't get a discount on matinees. Then I bought 2 small popcorns, a soft drink, a bottle of water, and a small bag of candy, and it cost$20. I can afford it all right, but I don't see how families go to see movies very often at those prices. Guess I am out of touch with current costs, huh?
After a supper of frozen pizza (cooked, of course), I went to church, and everyone else headed tp Grandpa H.'s house for the extended family celebration. Gifts were exchanged, and snacks were shared. Then Alissa and the boys headed for home (a 2 1/2 hour drive) so they could be at home on Christmas morning. Imagine their excitement when they spotted Santa's sleigh (a UPS plane) in the sky on their way home. Terry and I scouted out some Christmas lights on our way home.
Around noon on Christmas day, Chip, Shira, Aiva, Doug, and Kellie arrived to see what Santa had brought them at our house. I sure am glad they are old enough to sleep in and then had to drive here. We got to sleep in, too. Later in the evening we went to Grandpa's again for Christmas supper. He fixed ham and lasagna, and we had several homemade desserts as well as the requisite chips and dip. I think we got home that night at around 11, again having scouted out Christmas lights to admire.
Yesterday, it was back to Curves for me. I needed to get back to the exercise routine that I had been neglecting since last Friday. Then we actually braved the crowds and went to K-Mart to stock up on storage boxes and a few other things, like paper and printer ink for my new printer. When we got home, I was wiped out. I sat and tried to read, but it seemed I was reading the inside of my eyelids more than the magazine in front of me. It seemed that someone had pulled the plug, and all the energy I'd had for days drained out. I guess my body was telling me to rest, so I did. Today I slept in, and now I feel much better. We didn't go anywhere today, and I watched an old movie and just rested.
I love Christmas and all its excitement. The little kids make it wondrous again, and I love choosing and giving gifts that I hope people will love and appreciate--and they seem to. It's nice to receive gifts, but it's even better to give them. The house looks so festive and beautiful, and people are full of good wishes. Now the gifts are unwrapped and taken home, and the decorations will soon go back into storage, too. Life will return to normal, and that is fine. After all, old people can only stand so much excitement, right? Life is good...

Friday, December 21, 2007


This has been a busy week on top of several other busy weeks. We were ready for Christmas several days before for a change, and I looked forward to a few days to just relax and veg out, but that hasn't been the case. Of course, there are always errands to run throughout the week, but I think they probably could be consolidated into fewer forays into stores than they have this week. It seems that even when there was no compelling reason to be out, my newly energized spouse had someplace he wanted to go or something he wanted us to do. After many months of being home all the time, now we seem to be gone most of the time-at least during the late mornings and afternoons. I never thought that I would be longing for a day to just stay home and do household tasks like dusting, sweeping and cleaning the bathrooms. Even the most rudimentary chores aren't getting done as they should be since I am squeezing them in at odd times or ignoring them altogether. And read a book or watch a video? Forget it! The only time I have to read anything but the newspaper is when I go to bed at night, and I usually fall asleep after about 20 pages. Perhaps you can tell that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. However, I know I am fortunate that we are able to get out and go and that we can afford to do the things we are doing. I figure that after the first of the year, things will slow down for a month or so before the new house construction gears up. I can rest and recharge and prepare for the busy spring we are bound to have. Meanwhile, the kids are coming, and Christmas is coming, and it will be fun and festive! Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas as we plan to. Life is good!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let the Holidays Begin!

Last night we had 2/3 of our kids and families out to help us put up our Christmas tree. For a simple supper of chicken and dumplings and Little Debbie snack cakes, we had plenty of help decorating the tree. Chip and Kellie were in charge of putting on the lights, and Doug, Shira, Kellie, Aiva, and I put on the ornaments. When we were done, Terry, Kellie, and Shira put on the tacky icicles that lots of people don't use anymore. We do, because I don't consider my tree complete without them. Fortunately, I had already done all my wrapping, so there were lots of presents to put underneath the tree. Isn't it festive?
Earlier in the weekend, we finished up the rest of the decorating. We have a "department store window" display in the family room with the tree that has all the kids' ornaments on it. It comes complete with a plate of goodies for Santa. Terry has gotten quite creative with his decorating this year, and our house looks nicer than it has in years.
We are looking forward to a cheerful and exciting holiday this year. It's about time--we were due for one! Life is good...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Scrooge Has Left the Building...

For most of our married life, we have enjoyed decorating our house for Christmas. Every year we would get out our collections of angels, snowmen, Santas, and other miscellaneous decorations and cover many surfaces with displays like you see here from this year's display. We always had at least two trees, one real one with all the traditional lights and ornaments, and the artificial one with mini-lights and ornaments that were made by the kids. Later we added more trees, a fiberoptic one, a ceramic one, and a few other little artificial trees. Mid-December until after Terry's January birthday found our house festively decked out for the holidays.

Then about 9 years ago, Terry retired from his job and became the Clark Griswold of LJ. I was still working, so he and the boys spent several days decorating, and we had lights, inflatables, and tinsel everywhere. Our house was beyond festive, and it seemed we bought more stuff every year. We had several animated figures as well as huge displays of holiday-themed stuffed animals. Tapestry throws and stockings covered the walls. Terry was very proud of all his handiwork, and since the kids took most of it down, which is the drudge work, he loved the holiday decorating.

All of that changed five years ago when he had a stroke two weeks before Christmas. While it was a mild stroke, and he had no physical damage, it did a number on his emotions and his cognitive abilities, making him very self-conscious. The holiday spirit left him in a rush, changing him from Clark Griswold to Ebenezer Scrooge almost overnight. He was, understandably, not in the mood to celebrate that year, and only minimal decorations were put up by me. In the ensuing years, Terry did not manage to recover his Christmas spirit, and we cut our decorating by about 3/4, but we still had our three main trees and our snowmen, angels, and some Santas. This was a manageable amount of decorating for me, as he still did not want to bother with much. The kids would come out and help with the real tree, but I did most of the rest myself.

I thought things were doing pretty well until last year, when Terry had all his health problems. If I thought he was Scrooge before, he seemed to be Scrooge on steroids now. He was NOT in the mood to celebrate and decreed that, for the first time in 37 years, we would not decorate, not even a tree. I finally talked him into letting me put up the kids' artificial tree so there would be something to put the presents under and so it looked like Christmas when the grandkids came. It broke my heart not to have our traditional real tree, but Terry seemed oblivious to anyone's feelings but his own. I understand that someone who is so sick tends to be self-absorbed, so I didn't make a big deal of my disappointment, hoping for things to get better the next year.

Well, I got my wish. Jacob Marley must have visited Terry in his dreams because he has suddenly become his pre-stroke self. His sense of humor and enthusiasm have returned. He doesn't even remember what things were like last year, and he doesn't remember not having a tree. The whole time has been blocked out of his memory. Now he laughs and tells his bad jokes all the time. While not wanting to be Clark Griswold anymore, he is ready for the holidays. He has helped with the shopping, the cards, the decorating, even the wrapping, and we are having the kids out to decorate the tree this weekend. We have even bought a few new decorations this year, the first time we have done that in a long time. He is eager to go and see Drew's Christmas program and even suggested we spend the night instead of rushing home afterward.

It looks like the grandchildren are finally going to get to know the grandpa that Terry was meant to be and that they probably can't remember. I'm so glad that they get the chance to do so. He has always loved kids and been able to entertain them, but that's all been buried deep inside the last several years. I am really looking forward to the holidays, and I think he is, too. Life is good!