Monday, December 5, 2016

The Perfect Family Christmas

Well, Carson and I went out to grab some lunch on Saturday.  I needed to run a couple errands and I used the promise of food to bribe him to come along.  That illness really messed with our appetites and there was almost nothing that sounded good but I was thinking a grilled chicken sandwich might hit the spot so we stopped in at a local restaurant while we were out and about. 

I love to observe people.  I guess I'm a people watcher.  I don't like to brag but I can usually assess what's going on in a group of people if I can just watch them for a little while.  Well, my seat  was facing a table where five women were looking over their menus.  They seemed to be having a pleasant time.  It looked like a mother in her 60's, her two daughters (30's), and two young teenage granddaughters.  Now, since I didn't actually know them, I could've been way off on all that but those were my best guesses.  Anyway, I imagined that they were out having a girls' Christmas shopping day on that cold, rainy afternoon and had stopped to take a lunch break.  Probably, the night before, someone suggested how fun it would be to all load up and get out into the hustle and bustle and enjoy the season together.  I felt sure that everyone thought it sounded like fun and agreed to make a day of it.  Or, at least, that's how it all went down in my mind.      

Well, I looked up from my menu to ask Carson what he was going to order and I saw one of the "daughters" saying something very serious to the "mother" she was saying something argumentative or something she needed to get off of her chest.  Maybe it was about something that happened earlier while they were shopping.  Maybe it was a grievance from a long time ago.  Maybe it was something someone said.  Either way, the teenage girls' eyes widened and they looked around their table to take in everyone's facial reactions.  I felt like I was watching something that I shouldn't be seeing.  Like the wreck you didn't want to see but, as you got closer, the curiosity got the best of you and you ended up gawking.  I couldn't help it.  It was like I had to know what was happening on this live episode of reality TV. 

Well, I could see the mother's mouth moving even though I couldn't see her face.  I could see that she was having her turn to reply to whatever was said to her.  And then, it happened.  The daughter's eyes began to tear up.  It was one of those mother/daughter moments not ever mentioned on Hallmark commercials.  The tears were probably a mix of anger and frustration and she crossed her arms and kind of stared off in the distance.  Everyone at the table sat awkwardly.  Not saying anything.  But, in true southern form, it was all done quietly and discreetly.  No scenes were being made.   No screaming.  No storming out.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have even known anything was happening if they hadn't been directly in my line of sight and, well, if I didn't have that people watching hobby.  The mother paid the check and got up and walked on out to the parking lot.  The others hung back and slowly followed at their own reluctant pace.  Clearly, their girls' day out had made a serious turn for the worse. 

I thought, "Well, it's that time of year again."  Time for family and crowds and everything that goes along with them.  Sometimes, our Rockwell moments take more of a National Lampoon turn as we try to execute the perfect family Christmas.  Problem is......families are never perfect so it's hard for them to pull off perfection for more than an hour or two.  We have visions of shopping trips and cookie baking and caroling that resemble Thomas Kinkade's imagination but then there are these things called hormones and sore subjects and insecurities and pet peeves and holiday stressors.  Yeah, you get yourself a good case of PMS and put it in a car for three hours going to Grandma's with a low carb diet, a gum chewer, a smacking pet peeve, an incessant talker, and a screaming kid and see what a pretty Christmas card picture that makes.     

Yes, 'tis the season when there will be too many of us crammed into kitchens.  Trapped in cars for long periods.  Sleeping on couches and hideaway beds.  Stuffed into living rooms, dens, and porches.  Squeezed around tables.  Sharing bathrooms.  Packed in stores like sardines.  Suffocating in crowded elevators and waiting areas.  Lost in miles and miles of lines.  Bumper to bumper on roads and highways.     

There will be people tucked into every nook and cranny of our personal space for the next 19 days.

And in the words of Ellen Griswold, "I don't know what else to say except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."

No, not really but it can get a little dicey at times.  So, let's not forget to extend goodwill to each other during the Christmas season.  If you think someone is getting on your last nerve, well, you're probably stomping all over theirs, too.  May we find common ground there as we stand atop each other's nerves and agree to take one for the team. 

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men." 

Y'all have a good Tuesday!     

Thursday, December 1, 2016

They All Fall Down

Well, since we last talked, we've all fallen.  One by one.  To the stomach bug.  Actually, I think this thing is more than a bug.  It's more like a flu.  I'm no doctor but I think the difference between a bug and a flu can be determined by its duration, the presence of fever and body aches, sightings of the death angel, and whether you wake up on the floor not knowing how you got there.

We're all at various stages of recovery.  At various stages of reintroducing solid foods.  At various stages of regaining strength and skin color.  Each terrorized with his or her own last meal flashbacks.
If you'd like to enter our 5 day weight loss program, just come on over here.  Our home is apparently infested with everything needed to guarantee the loss of 4-6 lbs. in just a few, long days.

I'd like to write something but I think my brain is dehydrated.  I picture it looking like a dried raisin you'd find between the couch cushions so I'll wait until it's had time to soak up some more moisture. 

Y'all be careful out there.  There are some nasty, nasty germs floating around.

See you next week. 


Sunday, November 27, 2016

You Win Some Meals, You Lose Some

Well, Thanksgiving weekend was going really, really good until Friday afternoon.  We'd, oh, so enjoyed my family's Thanksgiving feast on Thursday night and were looking forward to having Davis' family over here to celebrate with them on Saturday.  Well, Blair and her boyfriend, John Samuel, went out to lunch on Friday and then they got into all the Black Friday madness and that's when it happened.  Right there in a department store restroom.  Blair fell victim to the stomach virus. (insert record scratching noise here)

Now, there are certain minor ailments which you could have in your household and still move forward with party hosting but the stomach virus isn't one of the ailments on that list.  No, no one wants to drive by your house, much less eat there, when you say those dreaded words.  So, sadly, we called off the Thanksgiving meal with my in-laws.  We also cancelled our Christmas card picture appointment because, well, it's difficult to have your family picture taken when one of you can't sit up and is the color of loose leaf paper. 

I don't know how y'all are but I just don't play around with the stomach virus.  Sure, when the kids were little and really needed my help, I would get in there and get my hands dirty.  Pardon the pun.  Now, not so much.  I will pat on you, and comfort you during almost any kind of illness but if you've got the stomach virus, you are on your own, my friend.  I don't care if I'm married to you or if I birthed you or if you birthed me.  I don't care who you are.  I don't love on people afflicted with the stomach bug.  It's not really the sight of throw up.  That doesn't bother me when it's my own kids.  It's just that I don't want what you've got. 

So, I'd put my nose down in my shirt and without touching any knobs or surfaces, I'd push Blair's door open with my foot and ask through the sophisticated, antibacterial filter of my t-shirt, "Can I get you anything, baby?"  "No," she'd reply weakly.  On my way out, she informed me that the last place she ate was a Mexican restaurant and that I'd be without my Mexican food amiga for a good, long while.  

I don't know what it is.  I just feel like stomach ailments are so much more contagious than other sicknesses.  Just the mention of someone having it and your stomach starts to feel queasy.  You never know if you're actually getting it or if it's just the power of suggestion.  You can almost see the germs creeping around the house like big rats.  You can feel them like crawling up your neck like hairy tarantulas.  So,  I closed the doors off and tried to keep the patient in a cordoned off area in order to limit the spread.   

Well, it was my good fortune that John Samuel was home for the weekend when she came down with this.  They're in that dating stage, you know, when you just want to be together (insert birds singing) matter if the other one is puking their guts out or running back and forth to the restroom.  Your love just won't allow you to be separated at such a trying time no matter the risk to your own health.  He'd check her temperature and get her Gatorade and medicine.  He stretched out across the bed with her and rubbed her back, kissed her forehead, and stroked her hair while she slept.  I'd warn him when I'd go in there with my nose covered, "John Samuel, you can't snuggle with the stomach virus."  But, he wasn't concerned.  I guess a mother can feel pretty good about a young man who will stay by her daughter's side through gastrointestinal upset.

Well, she got better and, much to no one's surprise, John Samuel came down with it this morning.  So, Blair and his Mom took him back to school today because he wasn't in any shape to drive.  Bless his heart. 

So, while she was gone, I put on my latex gloves and sanitized everything.  The Clorox wipes.  The lemon-scented Lysol.  All the switches, bathroom surfaces, and knobs got disinfected.  Davis stripped her bed and the guest room bed where John Samuel had slept.  We opened the doors and let the cool, fresh air circulate through the house.  We got the washing machine and dryer going.  It was kind of like a viral exorcism.  We had it like an operating room up in here.  

Until, literally, just two minutes ago, when the dog's ears perked up and I heard a lot of commotion coming from down the hall.  Carson has it now.  So, let me get my nose back into my shirt and go check on him. 

I think I feel something crawling on me.   

Where is John Samuel when I need him? 

Save me from all of these sick people.   


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

An Ordinary Day

One morning, earlier in the week, I woke up and crawled out of a warm, soft bed....a comfortable place used to recharge my body and spirit after a long day.  I got up and walked to the kitchen where I had my choice of many different breakfast options.  Cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice, milk, coffee.  Sausage, eggs, bacon, cereal, breakfast bars, fruit.  My kitchen was full of delicious things. I turned on the faucet to fill my glass and pure, clean water came out for drinking.  Right there inside my home.  As much as I wanted.  I reached in the cabinet and got out my medicines. Medicines used to treat and prevent and relieve were readily available to me.  I turned on the television to watch the news.  I had access to information and different points of view on what's going on in our country and the world.  I watched a couple of news stories about the new president-elect who was chosen by a democratic process in which everyone had a say.  I headed to take a shower and get ready for the day. A warm shower to make me feel refreshed.  I walked into my closet and looked through all of my clothing options and then shoe options.  There was something in there for any occasion. It was hard to decide.  I grabbed one of my several jackets because it was a little chilly outside.  I headed out to the garage and climbed into my vehicle.  I cranked it and it took me where I needed to go in just a very short time.  I met a friend for lunch.  We bowed our heads before we ate our hot meal and thanked God for our time together.  We weren't fearful of punishment or afraid of reprimand.  After lunch, we walked through a couple of stores where I bought a gift and something else I probably could've done without.  We walked to our cars and I saw the American flag flapping in the breeze near the shopping area.  It was flying over the country that guaranteed us the freedoms that we were enjoying together.  We hugged and parted ways and I drove on to work.  I passed a hospital, a doctor's office, a police department, a dentist's office, a fire department.....all available if my family ever needed them.  Navy jets flew overhead in the big blue sky.  They were ready to combat any threats to our nation's security.  I passed my son's school.  A safe and caring environment where he goes to get a good education.  As I drove, I noticed several churches where people gather and worship God any time they choose. I arrived at my job which pays me to do what I enjoy doing in a comfortable environment and for a fair wage.  My son and my mother called me on my phone during the afternoon.  My daughter and husband texted me, too.  I was able to easily communicate with the people I love no matter where they were.  I made my way back home after work.  I went in from the cold and sat down in my chair with my family there.  It was a dry and warm place.  I heard the heater come on.  The warm air felt so good.  No matter what the weather conditions were outside, I was safe from them there.  My refuge at the end of the day.  My husband came in from work.  He'd been at the job that provides us with all the things we need and some things that we just want.  I got up to start supper.  I turned on the oven and reached in the refrigerator and got the ingredients that I needed to make a meal for my family.  When we got finished eating, there were leftovers.  No one in our house went to bed hungry.  As it got closer for bedtime, I reached over and took the Bible from the table next to my chair and read for a little while.  From the chair where I sat, I could see four more copies of God's word in that room alone. Then, I got my laptop and decided to work on a blog post.  I was free to post anything that was on my mind.  It was up to me. 

Before I went to bed, I thought that it had been a pretty routine day.  Nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  Just a normal, run of the mill day weighted down with blessings and gifts.  Some I recognized as gifts as I was enjoying them.  Others, I just considered routine and skimmed right over their worth.  God, when I find myself becoming desensitized to my blessings, help me not stay in that place for long.  

I know there are parts of this world where my routine would be considered only a dream. God has most generously poured out His provisions over us......and then some. 

I want to remain constantly aware that, without Him, I would have nothing.

Happy Thanksgiving to y'all!

I'm thankful for you.      




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Time is Giving Me Fits

Well, I met most of my goals, last week.  You know, the one about preparing home cooked meals......did that.  Eating vegetables......yes.  Sleeping embarrassing amounts of time......done.  Nursing Carson back to health.....check., not so much. 

I don't know why but this time change thing has really messed me up more than usual.  I hear the older you get, the longer it takes you to adjust to change and I guess it's true.  I usually see Carson off to school in the mornings and then crawl back in bed for a couple of more hours of sleep.  I know......I'm a sorry excuse for a functional, worthwhile person in the morning.  But, with this time change, I come out of my blackout-curtained bedroom and step into what looks like the midday sun and so, by the time he's left for school, I'm awake.  That's all fine and good, I suppose, until nighttime comes and I'm fighting to stay awake at 9:30.  That is not who I am and I'm not proud of it.  My most fruitful and inspired blogging hours are usually from 10:30-12:30 a.m.-ish and so, all the days that I haven't posted lately, well, there is a very good reason for that.  I was unconscious.

There are night people and there are morning people.  I belong to the night and so this is a very uncomfortable and unnatural place for me right now.  I feel terrible all day long from getting up early but, with each passing day, I hope to acclimate better to the new time and gradually stay up later than a 7 year old girl on allergy meds.  Until then, we will muddle through this difficult period together.

Time can give us fits on so many levels.  Last week,  I was stopped in my tracks when I realized it was the middle of the month already!  I'd been so busy at the stores that I hadn't had time to think about much of anything.  I thought it was like the 11th when I realized it was the 16th and my favorite three months of the year were already halfway over.  Dang. 

I've been waiting for this since Easter.....even before all the Peeps were eaten, my appetite for the warm weather had been satisfied.  Then, summer dragged itself through here like a snail on downers.  I thought it would never pull its miserable, humid tail on out of here.  As a matter of fact, it took it about 2 months longer than it should have to make its drawn out exit.  Now, here it is almost Thanksgiving and I'm feeling a little panicky at how fast it's all going.

It seems like when we've got things how we like them, time puts the pedal to the metal.  When we're in the middle of something we're not enjoying, it's like the little old lady with blue hair driving 45 in the passing lane oblivious to how badly you're needing her to just GO!  Your hour long massage goes by a lot quicker than, say, the hour of your pap smear appointment.  And Christmas Day seems several hours shorter than, like, Arbor Day.  And a week of jury duty limps along way slower than your vacation week with its Olympic record time.  It's just a fact.  Time flies when we're having fun and, right now, I'm having fun.....but at warped speed.  Ugh.  I'll be swatting mosquitos and sweating through my clothes before you know it.

In other news, I took Carson to Birmingham, this weekend.  He's been wanting to see if he'd like to get into some mountain biking and, since my brother is a legit racing cyclist, I took him to spend a couple of days riding the rocky trails with his Uncle Lee.  I invited Blair to come and make a shopping trip out of it.  I mean, is there anything from which you can't make a shopping trip?  I think not.  Fun was had by all.  We returned with a lot of shopping bags and only a few tree-induced abrasions.         

And this, right here, is the start of one of my favorite weeks for many reasons.  One being that I never left the town where I grew up and so holidays always bring a lot of friends home to visit their families. I know time is precious when they're home for just a short while and so I'm tickled to death when they call and want to get together.  Tomorrow......lunch with my friend, Karen, my roomie at Mississippi State, and dinner with my high school friend, Amanda, so I'm just a little excited.  All this is after my morning mammogram so I anticipate the morning will pass more slowly than the rest of the day. 

Another reason to list this week at the top of my favorites is, of course, that the end of the week will bring a lot of family and a lot of food.  My Mama and her sister, Aunt Gloria, will cook their traditional Thanksgiving spread using my sweet Grandmother's old recipes.  She was one of the best cooks that ever was and she taught her girls well.  They make it just the way she did.......down to the special coarsely ground corn meal that she used to make the cornbread dressing.  Mmmmm.  It'll be a gathering of about 40 or so and we're adding to that tea glass total all the time.  Needless to say, it's one of my favorite days of the whole I know it will go by (insert snap) just like that.

It is now 11:16 and I'm still awake.  We are making progress, indeed.

Y'all have a good start to this holiday week!     




Monday, October 24, 2016

The Dream

Well, last night, I had a recurring dream.  This dream and I go way back.  It's one that I used to have when I was still working as a wedding floral designer.  It's a dream that always makes me wake up in a cold sweat. 

Here's how it goes......I'm working on the floral arrangements for a wedding.  I'm watching the time.  I'm making a mental checklist of all of the things I have left to do.  I'm working as quickly as I can.....which is never very fast in dreams.  The clock's minute hand is spinning around like the second hand as I work in a panic.  All of a sudden, I hear people behind me coming into the church..........and then the music starts playing.  Oh, my word!  I'm not done and guests are starting to arrive.  I've got so much to do!  So, I do what any respected florist would do in this situation.......I find the bride and ask for 15 more minutes.  It's amazing how flexible brides can be in dreams.  She consents.  I work at the front of the church as the piano and strings play "Clair de Lune" and the guests file in, checking their watches.  The floor is littered with flower stems.  I haven't put out the candles yet.  I still have one big floral arrangement left to do.  And the bride cracks open the door to tell me my 15 minutes is up. 

I wake up with my heart beating like a drum. 

I hate that dream.  Even though there are always variations in the specifics, the scenario is the same.  Every.  Single.  Time. 

The timing of this nightmare is very predictable.  It always surfaces when I'm feeling like a have a whole lot to do and maybe feeling a little squeezed in the face of it all.  Last night's showing was no exception.  It's time for the Christmas open houses again and, until November 13, my co-workers and I will be in the throws of preparing for and hosting three open houses and, while it's a lot of fun to work on it together as a team, it's also pretty darn tiring.  

That being said, I'm going to disappear until around the 14th.  You'll know where I'll be......the front of the church with the organ playing; trying to get the floral arrangements done while the guests are breathing down my neck and the bride is pointing at her to speak.

Hope the next 20 days or so are good for you!

I'll be back!   


Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm So Proud of Her

Well, if we can all just hang on 18 more days, maybe our country can begin to decompress from this incredibly long and volatile election season.  It just seems like there's so much tension in the much division in our country.  I talked about this a week or so it can all start to affect you if you let it.  I understand that the American Psychological Association has found that half of us are suffering from a condition which they've named "Election Stress Disorder".  Gee, I can't imagine why, can you?    

Today, I decided to share an old post from 2014 because (a) I've been too busy to write much this week and (b) in hopes that, for a few minutes, maybe we could soothe our election-weary brains and remember that the more unified and constructive side of us does still exist.           

I'll admit it.....I'm pretty much a news junkie.  I think it's so important to stay informed but being apprised of all of the goings on can also have its downside, too.  Sometimes, it feels like I'm only hearing about the bad side of America and her people.  Story after story of hate, deceit, greed, and every form of disregard for human life imaginable.  Child neglect.  Illicit affairs.  Fraudulent lawsuits.  Injustice.  Murder.  Molestation.  Drugs.  Corrupt politicians.  Discrimination.  Theft.  Cruelty.  Mass shootings.          

I know all of that exists, but I want to tell you about the America that I see every day.  She's the one who rarely makes the headlines. 

That America has been filling up sandbags and boarding up windows ahead of a hurricane.  She's the family fostering a child who was abandoned and needed a home.  She's the large group of volunteers who gather to find a missing child.  She's the man who pays the bill for the car behind him in the drive through. She's the van, full of willing hands, that pulls into storm ravaged towns.  She's the prayer service that meets to lift up a sick friend to the Great Physician.  She's the stranger who chases the purse snatcher.  She's the neighbor mowing the widow's grass when she's not home.  She's the jar full of dollar bills on the counter at the gas station.  She's the car that stops to help change the old man's tire.  She's the little, white girl and the little, black girl who don't see color when they look into each other's face.

She's the one who turned in the money that she found. She's driving an elderly friend to the doctor.  She's the group of guys who volunteer to take the disabled vets hunting.  She's the doctor, nurse, and dentist spending their vacations in a hot, primitive tent helping patients halfway around the world.  She's the plane load of food and medical supplies flying over the oceans to desperate situations.  She's the group of children caroling outside the elderly couple's door.  She's the missionary, who left the comforts of home, burdened for people she's never met and who don't even speak her language.  She's the man who offers his seat on the subway. She's the fund set up at the bank for the family of the fallen police officer.  She's the one who pulls over for the hungry dog by the railroad tracks.  She's the guy who takes up time with the boy without a father.  She's the lady who gives one of her kidneys for a friend.

She's the firefighter who ran up the same World Trade Center stairs that everyone was clamoring to get down.  She's a gym full of cots and warm food when the storm blows.  She can be found scooping green beans onto a lunch tray at the soup kitchen.  She's the disabled soldier who left his cover to save a comrade.  She's the volunteer who spends his Saturday working to build a home for a needy family.  She plays the piano for the patients at the nursing home.  She's the boy who holds the door open a few extra seconds for the lady coming in behind him.  She's the one cooking a meal for her neighbor with cancer.  She can be found digging through bricks and twisted lumber, with his bare hands, hoping to find survivors.  She's the truck loaded with Christmas shoeboxes traveling dusty, remote trails lined with poor children.  Her name is on the bone marrow donor registry.  She's the stranger who stays with the wreck victim until help arrives.  She's the soldier who stoically guards the body of the Unknown Soldier no matter the conditions. 

She's the mother who takes out the trash and throws a baseball while her husband is deployed.  She's the table full of casseroles and pies delivered to the family in grief.  She's the man who jumps in to save a little girl from drowning.  She's the boy who stands up to the bully for his friend.  She's the scout leader who spends a lot of his weekends on a cot instead of a golf course.  She's the fish fry that benefits the sick, little boy.  She's the box full of canned goods at the school's food drive.  She's the man who builds a ramp for his disabled neighbor.  She's the present under the tree of a child who wouldn't have gotten one otherwise.  She's the underpaid teacher who stays late to help a student.  She's the rescuer who won't give up the search for the child missing in a flood.  She's the five dollars handed out the car window to a homeless man.  She's donating sick leave to a single mother with a chronic disease.  She's the childcare worker who loves her class like they are her own.   

She's the PTA.  The little league coach.  The red kettle full of quarters and nickels.  The church with open doors on a cold night.  The blood donor.  The check written to Make a Wish.  The volunteer fireman.  The anonymous donation. The mentor.  The Eagle Scout.  The quilts made for patients on the cancer floor.  The bake sale.  The driver for Meals on Wheels.  The prayer list tucked in a Bible.  The Sunday School teacher.  The family who takes a card from the Angel Tree.  The volunteer at the children's hospital.  The poll worker.  The care package sent to a soldier.  The dad working three jobs.                                           

That is the America I know.  That is who she is to me.

And I'm so proud to call her home. 

Even still. 

Good may not frequent the news.  There's not much air time available for what is good and decent but, for our own mental health and for our spirit of unity, let's not forget that it's there.  Alive and well and living among us. 

Y'all have a relaxing weekend!