Monthly Archives: December 2021

Another Merry Christmas Chaos

I should be writing something more substantial than this article, but I can’t quite get into the rest of what I want to do until I move this out of the way, so here it goes: It’s the Monday after Christmas and I don’t know how to proceed from here.

I should clean house–four days in a small house with a lot of people leaves quite the litter trail. But I kind of like the litter trail…I sit with my fourth cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet and the mess around me. There are still bows on the floor from Christmas morning, the dog’s dish is upside down under the backwards-facing chair, there are coats and throws draped everywhere and the tree is sitting atop the discarded Christmas stockings and various debris that couldn’t find another home.

I took pictures because it’s otherwise hard for you to fathom the mess. A right-thinking housekeeper would get up, dust, right the nativity set rearranged by small busy fingers, pick up the trash, load the dishwasher for the ninth time in two days and get things put back together in general. That’s what a right-thinking housekeeper would do.

As for me, I’m going to sit here and contemplate for a while. I want to remember what an outstanding Christmas this was. And it’s not for the presents or even for the season; it’s because there are only so many memories that we can make and this was a great time for making them.

I’m sitting here at the brand-new desk that I got for Christmas and it does make the greatest workspace in the world, but what is even more special about it is the fact that my husband (who doesn’t always) really listened to what I wanted for this Christmas instead of buying something practical that I needed. It’s more special because my daughter and her husband spent part of their Christmas Eve locked in the bedroom, setting everything up. It more special because both of my daughters created hand made items as part of the surprise and my grandsons painted a box and made a candle to go with it. It’s special because my son-in-law went to extra work and even lied (not something he does well) just to make sure the printer I wanted was there and ready to go.

The older I get, the more I understand that old chestnut that goes something like this: “It’s not the gifts you get, it’s the memories they contain.” I understand that now. It’s the shawl my daughter made me, that I had been hoping was for me. It’s the picture my son-in-law painted of my house, the way that I see it. It’s the wonderful cottonwood artwork my daughter did for me, because the cottonwoods are a tree tied up with my fondest childhood memories.

Even more than that, it’s the smiling face on my youngest grandson when Grandma showed up to get him out of bed; it’s the nine-year-old playing a wild game of war with his mother and his uncle or maybe the eleven-year-old slipping into the house for one last hug goodbye before traveling down the road. These are the things that can only be stored in the memories of my mind and for that, I need to take these moments of reflection afterward, to savor the sweetness.

My oldest grandson has a habit of doing the question, “What was your favorite part?” of anything. When he put that question to me about Christmas, I said, “Everything,” and he, an absolute young fellow, would not take that answer. “No, Grandma, what was the thing that was the best?”

I thought a minute and finally I said, “The memories that you gave me.” After a minute of deliberating, he replied, “Mine too, Grandma.”

So, it’s going to take a little while for me to get up and clear away the litter and debris of this wonderful, chaotic Christmas and I’m going to love every bow I uncover tucked in my shoe, or small plastic piece from a game, or the half-eaten piece of fudge, forgotten in the manger scene on the windowsill. And you know what? I’ll bet I’m not the only housekeeper who feels this way this Christmas! Happy memories to you all!

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A Twisted, Terrible Tale

Photo by Erik Mclean on

Okay, so I KNOW that those lines in the parking lot are there for a reason. You are supposed to park your vehicle between two of the lines. I know this. I have just never paid a lot of attention to those lines.

Roy is meticulous about them. He will pull into a parking space with his driver’s door open enough so he can see that he’s between the lines. Or, he will make me get out and guide him in the correct spot. It always seemed like excessive effort to me.

This week, that attitude was revised, with some help from a large green pickup. I was parked at a McDonald’s where the take-out line was long and very narrow, so I decided to just park and run inside for my order. I parked, went inside and quickly got my to go bag and cup. When I came back out a mere five minutes later, there was a pickup parked next to me. To my outrage, he was snuggled up, no more than six inches from my driver’s door.

My immediate reaction was to march back in that store and demand that the pickup owner move out of my way, even while I was a little impressed that he got that close without doing damage to either of us. My second thought was why would he do that? Was he trying to be funny? Was he trying to be mean?

Finally, I took a good look at the way I was parked and I was quite definitely parked over the line and he had simply parked where he was supposed to–I was the one who was too close. Oh…now what?

I went to the passenger’s side and slipped into the car. Could I climb over the car console to get under the wheel? A few years ago, you bet, but now, I’m older; my body doesn’t always cooperate the way I would like. Still, that’s no reason not to try, right?

I slid one leg across the console and then lifted my hip to follow. My hip caught on the corner of the console and refused to go further. With pain causing my eyes to twitch, I finally managed to get my rear onto the console and at that point, I realized that my remaining leg on the passenger side was pushing my bag of sandwich and fries into the floor. I didn’t have to taste it to know that this would not enhance the quality.

By a series of twists and jerks, I managed to get my posterior in the driver’s seat. That just left the second leg to get over the console. Smashing my upper body against the driver’s door, I attempted to fold and pull the leg over to join the rest of my body. It didn’t work.

Resting my foot on the dashboard, I contemplated the fact that I should just have gone back into the restaurant, apologized for being a clod about parking and asked the pickup owner to move for me. Unfortunately, my body was so entirely wedged in the driver’s side (except for that one leg and foot), that I could not unstick myself to get back into the passenger seat.

If you’re still with me now, I want you to imagine the scene. I’m sitting on the driver’s side of the car with one foot and leg bent up on the dashboard like a rather odd-looking pretzel. I couldn’t move my leg or body to make it back to the passenger seat and if I ever did get out of this, I still had to back out on a narrow lane past a very close pickup.

I could not, however, in that position, even reach my squashed bag of lunch and it was about at this point in time I realized that my rear was wet because I had sat on my drink. That’s going to leave an interesting stain in the car, that’s for sure.

Okay, I decided something had to be done and perhaps I was going to have to fold myself into an even smaller pretzel or figure out how to drive the car with one foot on the driver’s dash and my eyes distended to the windshield in pain.

Slowly, and with my shoe leaving black marks across the top of the windshield, I brought the foot across over the steering wheel, bent in a position I haven’t been able to achieve since my days as a toddler. With a great deal of grunting, and bones popping, I managed to bring my foot down onto the floor where it was supposed to be. Praise be!

I sat there for a few minutes, adjusting myself to being unbent again, when—and of course, you know what’s coming next: the driver of the pickup came out, got into his vehicle and backed out, leaving my driver’s door easily accessible.

Thinking quickly, I grabbed my mangled lunch bag and stepped out of the car. “Would you like a mashed hamburger?” I hollered, waving the bag at him, “also, would you like some squashed fries with that?” He looked at me, yelling and waving the bag and gunned the motor so he shot out of the parking lot. I can’t help it, you know…being twisted into a pretzel causes a lack of blood flow to the brain.

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Wrapping it up

Photo by Liza Summer on

Christmas comes but once a year, but when it comes to wrapping presents, that is probably more than enough. Each year, I must face the harsh truth that whatever that gift-wrapping gene is, my version is wadded up, torn in the wrong places or just a tad short of covering.

It isn’t just Christmas when this failing appears, but Christmas means I don’t just wad up a gift for one individual, I mis-tape, mis-cut and break ribbons for everyone’s gift. I chose the picture above because that is the image I have in my head of a well-wrapped present, but it is a long way from the truth about the way I abuse a gift with wrapping paper.

I usually start out okay, I can get a few things wrapped and under the tree, but that won’t last. I will put a box on a sheet of wrapping paper and it doesn’t fit. I will MAKE that paper fit, even if I have to tear it in a few places. Occasionally, I even punch the gift box to smush it up just a little and make it fit. I always blame that on the delivery people.

Okay, I had too small a paper for one, so for the next one, I cut the paper twice the size needed for a box. Now, this is much less frustrating, but once you have bunched all the extra paper up around the sides of the box and get enough tape on it to hold it together, it looks a lot like the gift has been wadded up into a Christmas towel, and at least they will never guess what it is by its shape!

Gift bags really don’t help me much. I can buy them and stuff them with paper and it never fails–something protrudes out before Christmas Day gets there and my gifts look like those poor, bony children under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present, with skinny limbs hanging out all over.

I think my skills at gift wrapping or lack thereof might be acceptable if those around me shared them, but apparently, the beautiful wrapping gene which skipped my generation, was “gifted” (pardon the pun) to my daughters. In particular my younger daughter can wrap presents with unusual skill. She can wrap a box with a precise piece of paper and then, ever so gently, expertly position that gift on the perfectly fluffed tissue paper–color-coded no less–that she has arranged in a gift bag. It’s really quite frustrating…I mean awe-inspiring.

As the years have gone on, I have learned to compensate. I use a lot of tape and I expertly position bows over the gaps in the paper and for the most part I get by. I try to buy gifts based on their ease of wrapping. Square boxes, medium in size are best. That is why sometimes my nephews will get a box of cigars–they don’t smoke, but the box is easy; or my aunt will get a box of shotgun shells–she doesn’t hunt, but it will be well-wrapped and she can re-gift it if she really doesn’t have a gopher problem!

Gift cards are an excellent choice and they don’t have to be wrapped. However, I listened this morning to the radio announcer outlining all the ways that a gift card can be scammed. So the choice on that is clear: give them a gift card that might have been scammed or hand them that beautiful vase, wrapped up until it resembles something that came out of a mummy’s tomb!

Another year has arrived and I have tried to do my best on the wrapping part. However, I read about a social club that will wrap your presents for a donation to their organization. I took my sad, ripped up, over-taped packages and said, “Do you think you could perhaps make this look a little better?”

“That depends,” said the young woman behind the counter as she looked at my sad little Christmas paper wads in dismay. “It would probably have been more helpful if you hadn’t let your five-year-old try first.”

I should have walked away in a huff, but of course I didn’t. I had them re-wrap all the presents and I put up with the wise-cracks and side-long looks, because they truly were able to do the job right. My gifts looked spectacular: varied Christmas designs, sharp corners, beautiful bows. I was so pleased, I could hardly wait for Christmas.

My daughters were delighted. “Oh, is that the new fryer I wanted?” squealed one, while the other shook a clothing box and crowed, “I just know this is the sweater I asked for.”

And that brings us to my other problem with presents–I’ve never surprised a soul with what I buy! Oh well, one problem at a time–I need to wrap up this wrapping handicap. Happy wrapping to all of you!

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Musings on massage

Photo by Anete Lusina on

Of all the odd things that have happened to me over the past year and a half, (and there have been quite a few) perhaps the oddest would be that I have been voluntarily going to massage appointments. Now, some people will read that and say, “What? Of course you would go to massage voluntarily!” I wish I was one of those people–but I’m not.

I am an individual with personal space and boundary issues. I like to keep my distance. As for taking off my clothes, I would shower in my shirt and jeans if I could figure out how to get clean that way. To receive a massage, you must both remove at least some clothing and you must abandon your boundary issues. So, I was never one of those people who scheduled a massage the same way they do a hair appointment or a pedicure. Until now, that is.

My last year has been fraught with back and neck issues and it wasn’t very long into it before someone suggested physical therapy. Once you have been stretched, twisted, snapped and manipulated by a physical therapist, you lose a lot of your inhibitions and a lot of your fear of being tortured on a rack. They do their job well, but they don’t do it easily. And when they are done and you’re feeling a little less tied in knots, their final advice is, “Keep going regularly to a therapist.”

For a therapist to work on me, I have to get out of my clothes from the waist up. Then, I must hoist my heavy body onto a narrow table, lying face down (for the back, you know) and figure out something comfortable to do with my arms. The first time I went, I put my claustrophobic face in that little headrest, ignored the fact that my nose was itching incredibly, and lifted my feet onto the little support pillow, praying the whole time I wouldn’t have some sort of hysterical fit.

In this position, I discovered I couldn’t breath very well, couldn’t adjust my chest in any comfortable position and worst of all, couldn’t see what the massage therapist was doing. They usually play some comforting “elevator” type music, but if that is designed to relax me, it doesn’t. I have always hated elevator music and I am so busy preparing for when they start the massage that I don’t hear it anyway.

Massage would be a great thing if they didn’t insist on touching places where I am stiff and sore. I know, I know, that is their job, and truly I do feel better–later–but at the time, it can be painful. “Just turn your head a little this way,” they will instruct and I will try, but I’m sure I’m as stiff as a board when they try to do anything to help me and my head is always silently screaming that it doesn’t WANT to turn that way!

I have never been very agile at moving positions when I am on my stomach and worst of all, no matter how much I avoid gaseous foods before I go, I always seem to feel bloated when I go and I always managed to prove it–loudly–before the session is over. I guess someone passing gas in their faces is one of the hazards of their profession, but I always hate to be the one to do it!

One of the hardest things to get used to was the manipulation of the neck. As part of that, they apply gentle pressure under the ears and pull. I am sure I go in with my neck folded down into my shoulders like a turtle, but by the time they are done stretching, I feel more like a giraffe. The first time it was done, I had a terrible dream that night that I was on the block and being beheaded. Only they didn’t chop my head off, they just pulled it off. Massage has a strange effect on my dreams!

While I don’t much enjoy the process of massage, I can tell that it helps with my neck and back issues. I admit this reluctantly because I would like to be right in all of my phobias and the one about being worse off if someone touches me has proven untrue. Even so, when I tell someone I have a massage appointment and they sigh and say, “Oh I LOVE massage! It is so relaxing and enjoyable,” I always have to bite my tongue just a little. But only a little–I don’t want to injure it and require another massage!

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