Tuesday, January 31, 2017

So, I Have An Issue

So many issues being debated in our nation right now.  People yelling and screaming at each other.  And women's issues seem to be some of the loudest debated topics as of late.  I do hate to step into anything here but there is a women's issue that I feel hasn't been addressed to my satisfaction.  And even though I don't want to become part of all the noise and discord, it's something that I feel deserves action and that is the continuing rise of the automatic toilet in ladies' public restrooms. I know that I've shared what's on my heart about this topic before but I feel it bears repeating as I've encountered several stressful situations recently.  I believe awareness is the key.  It is where change begins.        

If you know me, personally, you know that I'm not one to use a public restroom unless it is completely unavoidable.  I'm not what you'd call an overly germ-conscious person in other areas of my life but I'd rather just hold it until I get home than deal with the un-pleasantries of a public latrine.  I might interject that one exception is a church bathroom.  With all of our shortcomings and weaknesses, we, Christians, should be commended for our pristine communal bathroom conditions.  Even as it relates to restrooms, it seems that cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.  I might also add here, at no additional charge, that my mother, the queen of clean, also gives Dillard's high bathroom ratings with Cracker Barrel as an acceptable alternative in times of emergency.  Just FYI.         

We, women, generally had one of two kinds of mothers.  There was the Type 1 mother who sent us in the public restroom alone as a child with no instructions or warnings about what not to touch.  This kind of mother didn't cringe at the thought of her little girl with her hands resting on either side of the toilet seat to steady herself and her pants legs dangling on the ground. No, this mother was laid back and such things never crossed her mind as her little daughter ran off to the bathroom alone at the Burger Chef.  These mothers were of the mindset that there was nothing in this world that a little soap couldn't wash off.  I was always fascinated with my friends who had Type 1 mothers and the freedom they had to flirt with death. 

Then, there was the Type 2 mother like I had......and the kind that I became.  I'm not sure but I think the Type 2 mother may be more prevalent here in the South.  I'd take little Blair in the restroom only after repeatedly asking, "Are you sure you can't hold it?"......I mean, just to be sure.  We'd go in and my first instruction was a stern, "Don't touch a thing!"  I'd survey the stall options and choose the cleanest one.  I'd lay a protective layer of toilet paper on the seat and then another one or two for good measure, you know, since she was too short to hover which is the preferred method of dealing with such an insanitary situation.  I'd help her up reminding her to keep her hands in her lap at all times while making sure her pants didn't touch the floor which would consequently require their immediate incineration when we got home.  We'd finish up and I'd use my foot to flush just like my mother taught me and we'd carefully back out of the stall.  I'd put soap and water on a paper towel and wash her little hands and, of course, like any woman worth her salt, I'd use her drying towel to open the door to exit.  Heaven forbid there was only a hand dryer in there leaving us with no way to open the door....but we won't get into that today.      

These new fangled automatic toilets, well, they just don't function properly for those of us who were brought up to believe that, if you sit on a public toilet, you might as well lick the stall handle and roll around in that mysterious puddle on the floor while you're at it.  It's the school of thought which believes that STDs abound in public restrooms and they will jump on you like fleas on a dog and that all drug resistant strains of every bacteria under the sun are present there.  It is the birthplace of many-a-chronic and incurable disease.  And since contact is a necessary component in the automatic toilet's functioning, it just doesn't work for us, Type 2 daughters......like we don't already have enough stressors to deal with while we're in there.           

We had lunch at a restaurant over the weekend and I had to visit to their public facilities.  We were out of town and so waiting until I got home wasn't really an option.  I entered the stall and was so thrilled to see a purse hook on the back of the door.  I'm liking the new lowered purse hook for greater security as opposed to just removing them all together.  For those public establishments who've removed your purse hooks, you can't imagine the level of difficulty involved in trying to hold a 20lb purse and attempting to conduct your business while avoiding making contact with any surfaces in the 2' x 3' infested area. Leaning forward while balancing 20 lbs in one's hand can make one top heavy but luckily one's head is already resting on the stall door at this point and prevents one from tipping over....but I digress.  On top of all of the hurdles, there was the struggle to keep my long sweater fringe from falling into the toilet.  We, women, sometimes wear long, flowy things which can add another level of difficulty to the process.  Men just can't imagine the coordination involved in purse balancing/fringe gathering /seat avoidance/backwards target accuracy.  It's a skill set that gets far too little attention in my opinion. 

So, I finished my business and turned around to flush only to discover it was one of those dang automatic toilets.  I stood there waiting for it to flush thinking it may be a timed type deal.   I mean, it randomly flushed when I walked  in and locked the door behind me so I thought maybe it was on a timer.  But, nothing.  I waved my foot in front of what looked like it could've been a sensor.  Nothing.  Then, I lightly kicked at the sensor.  Nothing.  I took my foot and applied slight pressure to the toilet seat and then lifted it in an attempt to mimic someone, who had a Type 1 mother, actually sitting on it.  Nothing.  I searched for a button.  None.  I tossed in more toilet paper to move the water a bit.  Nothing. 

What was a girl to do?  There were other people in there.  Ladies waiting for my stall.  You can't just exit a restroom stall without a flush first. You'll get judgmental looks. You could have your southern belle card revoked.  I've seen revocation for far less crimes. And if you stand in there too long, they'll begin to wonder what you're doing and start looking under the door only to see your feet facing the toilet!  So, I waited there, awkwardly, praying for a flush.  When you've done all you can do, pray.... even in the small things.  Finally, I heard the glorious sound of flushing which had enough power to suck me in by my fringe had I been one-half inch closer but it was glorious, nonetheless. 

So, I urge everyone who was raised by a Type 2 mother.....don't suffer with the automatic toilet alone.  We have to rise up and be heard.  We need each other in this age of automation.  We demand change.  We want a good old-fashioned lever we can stomp.  Just like our mamas taught us.  It's all we ask, really.  Just bring back the lever. 

Or put your little sensors on the back of the stall door.......where our heads rest.

If we can change just one bathroom, we will have made a difference. 

Y'all have a good one! 


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Yearly Reminder

Well, it's a new year and thus begins my annual pilgrimage to check ups and exams which we, women, have to do each year.  I'm still a year and a half removed from the colonoscopy and continue to pray fervently that the Lord will return before May of 2018.  Anyway, I decided to keep with tradition and start at the head, this year, and work my way down.  I'm nothing if not a stickler for check ups. Last week, I went to the eye doctor where I got new glasses as I learned that I have the beginning of a cataract which has changed my lens prescription.  Cataract.  I remember when my grandmother had those so that was a kick in the "I think I'm still young" pants.  Then, working my way down from the head, the next stop would be the thyroid check up but that's not due yet so I proceeded on to the mammogram.  As a public service reminder, I try to always write about my mammogram appointment in an effort to encourage you to get yours, too!   

So, I missed my mammogram appointment back when we all fell ill to the stomach virus.  I was too sick to even call much less go.  I mean, there are a lot of places one doesn't want to be when afflicted with the stomach virus and in a paper gown ensnared by a mammary vise would have to be pretty near the top of the list.  So, they mailed me this pink slip and said that, since I missed my appointment, I could drop by anytime with my pink piece of paper and they would work me right in.  I suppose they're trying to make it as easy as possible for women to get their yearly check ups which is a good thing.  Yay for them. 

So, for a couple of months, I moved the pink slip all around the house.  Putting it off with every move. It went from the table next to my chair to folded inside my planner to the top of my desk to the console in my car to the bottom of my purse and, finally, I decided I needed to quit putting it off, take my tattered pink paper, and just go.

I went right before lunch at 11:30, one day.  Right before lunch and right after lunch seem to be the best times to deal with medical appointments.  So, I walked into the empty waiting area and knew I'd made a good call.  I signed and initialed all the paperwork.  You know all the stuff about privacy, permission to treat, and such.  I guess I should start reading all that more closely before I initial and sign.  Could be something in there about their not being responsible for accidental amputation or failure to reinflate or something.  Stuff like that would be good to know beforehand.

So, before I was able to sit down good, a chirpy, little lady came to get me.  I don't know what her title was but she's the one who comes and gets you and takes you into that little room and enthusiastically explains the putting on of the robe, the pink deodorant removal wipes, the blue re-deodorant wipes, and the reminder to bring the little key to your locker with you when you're done.  She had the most jovial voice and I don't believe I've ever heard anyone speak of locker keys with such fervor.  She was adorable.  So, she left and I did everything she said because, well, you don't want the mammogram people mad at you.  They have a serious torture device at their disposal. 

I sat in the chair as instructed and waited for someone to come and get me and, to my delight, my sweet friend who works there rounded the corner.  It's nice to see a familiar face at such an awkward time.  I mean, you have a lot more to talk about with a friend than a stranger while you're being corralled into the dough press.  We discussed our children, parents, siblings with a "lean in closer" and a "hold still" thrown in every now and then and maybe a "turn you head that way" for good measure.  I stood there with my robe gaping open between takes as we discussed the weather like that was something I did a lot.  I was like Eve before the whole apple incident.....I didn't even care that my robe was ajar.  Before I knew it, she was all done and I took my little key and started to head back to the deodorant wipes and the comforting embrace of my clothing. 

But, then I was called back because they saw a little something that wasn't there the last time I went.  Well, that always makes you a bit nervous and I was taken into another room for an ultrasound.  They were asking me some family history questions and I started reading stuff into that. With something like this, you tend to pick up on any hint of concern they may have and kind of set your worry meter at whatever you decide their worry meter setting is.  I don't like to brag but I'm a pretty good people reader and I estimated their setting to be around 6 and so mine was fluctuating somewhere between 6 and 250. 

So, like I'd done a few times before, I stretched out on the table and waited on the sweet doctor to come in.  I wasn't in there long before she came but it felt like a long while.  Worry tends to make time sluggish.  For a brief moment, I went through all the possible scenarios of how the next few minutes could play out.  I thought about my friends who've had breast cancer.  Some who are fighting it now.  My cousins. One of them who didn't make it.  Whenever you're in a waiting period that comes with so many medical tests, you have time to think about the ifs of life.  How you'd react.  How your family would react.  How life would change.  How strong your faith really is.   

Well, the doctor came in and about 2 seconds after finding it with the ultrasound, she smiled and reported what it was and that everything was fine and that I had nothing to worry about.  That's what you always tell your friends it will turn out to be when they have to go back but when it's you, well, it gets a little more complicated. So, the ifs immediately left me and my mind returned to its relaxed state once again.

So, tonight, I sit here writing with my new glasses, a clean mammogram, and two punches on my check up card. 

But, I pray for all the women who were like me and got called back.  Except they stretched out on the table and didn't get the news they wanted to hear.  Their mind didn't get to return to its relaxed state and probably hasn't since.  Maybe not so much for themselves as for those they take care of and love with all of their hearts.  I pray for those women who are fighting.  I pray for strength, healing, and comfort for them. God, please, give them everything they need to face each day and may they feel You above them, below them, and beside them....completely surrounded by Your peace.     

Ladies, please, get your mammograms. 

Y'all have a good Wednesday!





Sunday, January 22, 2017

Do As I Say

Well, it's been quite a week in our country.  I have to say that I'm always a sucker for the inaugural festivities which are steeped in tradition and wrapped up with all of the formality.  I guess we've gotten pretty casual in our modern day living and it's just so refreshing to see such formal customs in a time when so much pageantry has been tossed out the window.  It's good to see ladies wearing gloves and hats on this side of the pond.  It's just nice to watch us being all "la de dah" every now and then. 

In all the noise of the significant week, I couldn't help but also think about how we, mothers, teach our daughters to be kind.  We tell them to keep quiet if they can't say anything nice.  We remind them to treat others the way they would want to be treated.  To be considerate of other people's feelings.  To not be a mean girl.  To never exclude anyone purposely.  We tell them to think before they speak.  We teach them that they're not always right.  We warn them that everyone will not always agree with everything they say or do or believe but to treat them all with respect.  That they will win some and lose some and to do both graciously.  We tell them to be careful on social media.  That things they post never really go away and can have far reaching effects.

I was wondering what they've been thinking about us, grown up women, I mean, if they've been paying any attention at all to the current news especially surrounding the inauguration.  Twitter.  Facebook "news" stories.  Commentators.  Media buzz.  Talk shows.   

What would we do if our daughters acted like some of the women we've heard from this week?  I tried to imagine if my daughter got on social media and made fun of someone's dress choice at a school dance?  If, in her inflated self-importance and fashion sense, she posted a picture of the girl in the "homemade" dress along with some derogatory comments in order to get laughs and likes for her clever wit and brutal honesty. I don't know your style of parenting but Blair would have likely needed to have my hand surgically removed from the first place on her body on which it found to land.  Likely, her derrière.  And I don't even want to think about ever seeing her on TV holding some of those vulgar signs I've seen lately. 

There are a lot of things we, women, don't need more of in this world.  Having other women tell us who is worthy or disgraceful or enlightened or capable or unacceptable or fashionable or elegant or qualified or close-minded or anything else, well, I'd have to put that as #1 on the list.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy and because of its long tangle of emotional ties, deeply caring nature, and sprawling stretch of responsibilities, being a woman has never and will never be easy.  We certainly don't need to be making it any harder for each other with hurtful and hateful words. 
I'm certainly not a perfect mother but I hope one thing has been evident to Blair as she's grown up around me.  I hope that she's learned that being a woman is a magnificent privilege.  It's not a burden or a chore.  It's not an obstacle or a constraint or a weight that is cumbersome.  It's never a disadvantage or something to resent.  It is a blessing.  It's a joy.  It's a benefit. 

With it comes the ability to love and connect and bond deeply.  It's the desire to communicate and express emotions.  It's wanting to be held and wanting to hold.  It's the joy of being treasured and the opportunity to leave a legacy.  It's not being afraid to cry.  It loves hard and works hard and finds it so hard to let go.  It's the privilege of being the first bond a child forms.  And it's loyal until the last breath.  It's seated at the very heart of the family.  Its influence spans generations and plays at the heartstrings long after it's gone.  It's the place where comfort is sought and always found.  It's beaming with pride and rejoicing with others. It reaches out and wants to make friends.  It craves companionship and loves and gives and nurtures with all its might.                    

Sometimes, it's hard, though.  It's sleepless and expensive and pulls from every end.  It's a lot of things to think about.  It's having a head full of stuff to remember.  It can bring feelings of inadequacy and doubt and some second guessing.  It takes a lot of organization to keep it all running smoothly.  It's feeling happy one moment and having a hissy fit the next.  Sometimes, it can't explain how it feels.  It's unpredictable and full of changes along the way.  It can even rip your heart out and kick it around a few times.  It can launch tears down the cheek and lay burdens on the mind.  Some days, it may require too much energy to get it all done.  It's guilt and wanting everything to be just right.  It's external pressure and even more internal pressure.  It's the worst pain you've ever experienced.....but the warmest warmth you've ever felt.  There's no doubt that the work of a woman isn't for the faint of heart but the compensation.....out of this world. 

I love being a woman.  A daughter.  A sister.  A wife.  A mother.  An aunt. A niece. A girlfriend.

Girls, if you've been watching us, grown up women, and are scratching your heads, forgive our terrible example.  A true lady doesn't treat other people with condescension.  She doesn't exclude or mock those who believe differently from her.  She never gets laughs at the expense of others.  A lady isn't vulgar or rude or mean-spirited.  She doesn't try to achieve power with bullying or intimidation or threats. 

And a lady always considers it a blessing to be a woman.

Y'all have a good start to the week!   



Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Sale Table

Tomorrow, we pack away all the items that didn't sell in our after-Christmas clearance sale.  We've marked it down in three stages over three weeks.  As time went on and selection dwindled, the savings got bigger and bigger.  But, eventually, we have to move on and get whatever remains boxed up to make room for the new merchandise.  The Valentines.  The spring.  It's time to freshen things up and that's what we'll do this weekend.  Such is the cycle of retail. 

Today, I condensed the remaining Christmas items down to one little table and it hit me how we can, sometimes, treat people like stuff.   

There are a few people who may seem to be hot commodities.....like the stuff that sells at regular price.  Sometimes, it's wanted even before it's unpacked from the box good.  They're in high demand, these people.  We seek to have them in their lives.  We're drawn to them.  Like looking at a hot item in a store, our heads are turned maybe by their looks, their quality, their usefulness, their label....or maybe just because others are crowded around them.  Sometimes, we can mistakenly put a lot of people in this category by what we see on social media.  Their lives look flawless.  They seem to have millions of friends surrounding them.  Rejection doesn't appear to be a problem in their lives.  They're always the feature in the front window display.  Coveted by many.  Always wanted.  And we treat them differently because of their high demand and popularity.  They're put up toward the front in a place of prominence where everyone can see.  We realize they can do a lot for us.  They really draw in a crowd.          

Then, there are people who have to do a little more convincing as far as we're concerned.  Sure, they have some great traits but they don't always catch the eye right off the bat.  Maybe they're nice but we don't really see where they're much different from what we already have.  They're just average. I mean, we want to get where there's high demand not mediocrity.  Maybe they don't really jump out at anybody.  They're just sort of standard issue......like us.  Kind of like the stuff that takes a little more arm twisting to sell.  They don't always make the cut but, with a little extra effort, we recognize their value and take them into our lives.  We're almost always glad we did.  They can become some of our greatest treasures.  Good quality stuff just without all the bells and whistles.      

And, sometimes, there are things that we just give up on and box up for storage.  They sit around and sit around and not one of us stops to look at them or pay them the least bit of attention.  Nothing that they have to offer is seen as a benefit to any of us who come in contact with them.  Maybe we notice that no one else is drawn to them and so we back off.  Others try to pawn them off on us but there are no takers.  Nobody feels that they're worth the price that's asked of us and so they're ignored and left behind.  Onlookers may think the buyer made a big mistake with their purchase.  They may wonder what He ever saw in them.  No one is drawn to the reject. The misfit.  The failure.  And, so, none of us will ever know what they have to offer.  Or what a blessing they could be to us.  Or what a blessing we could be to them.     

I was thinking that all of that stuff/people have one thing in common.  The store owner paid a price to buy them all.  He saw something in them that was loveable and endearing to Him and He wanted to take them home and so He paid the price to make that possible.  He paid the full amount for both the ones that flew off the shelves with their sparkly charm and the ones that got crammed back in the box because no one ever saw any worth in them......but Him.

In this new year, I hope that I'll make a more conscious effort to treat people like they are valuable.  Whether I'm wowed by their charisma or if they just blend in with the background, God paid the bill in full for both of them and all the ones in between.  If He saw something that was beautiful there, maybe I will, too.  If I stop long enough to really look around instead of just window shop.   

I hope y'all have a great weekend. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Big Easy

Well, the New Orleans trip was a success!  We left home in the sleet but drove out of it before too long.  We had a great weekend. A really, really great weekend.  The happy couple has done most of their dating there in the Big Easy and fell in love with its food, music, and southern charm and so we braved the elements to see if it would be feasible for them to get married there. 

It's always better to visit a big city with someone who knows all the good spots and so John Samuel, who goes to school there, came in handy as our tour guide.  He took us to tucked away restaurants that we would've probably passed right by without having a "local" to advise us.  He may have "advised" us a little too well, though, as I gained 2.5 lbs. in 3 days of gumbo-ing and beignet-ing our way through town.

Anyway, the trip was wildly successful.  After traipsing all over the city and crossing the duds off the list, we now have a venue.  We have a date.  We have a preacher.  We have a caterer.  We have a florist (Not me, yay.).  We have a jazz band.  We were what you might call a "productive people".  We have a long way to go but I'm feeling a tad bit cocky after coming off such a fruitful weekend.
(Davis is the one on the right who looks like he has a lot of numbers floating around in his head.)

I also got some Christmas outdoor illumination ideas for next year.  I can't even begin to imagine how many extension cords this took as these were OAK trees not some wimpy plant material.  It was absolutely stunning!  With Davis being retired, I'm thinking he could pull this off for me.

The trip was not only productive but it also reinforced a couple of personal beliefs which I already held to be true:
1)  I was not meant to live in a large city where people are packed into street cars like a warm can of biscuits.  If I can see the nostril hair of the man pressed up next to me, something is bad wrong.  If I can feel your breath in my hair and we are not married, you are not where you belong.  I was not designed to live in such tight quarters with those I don't know.  If I can discern that your deodorant is of the powder fresh scent variety, we are entirely too close.  Period. 

2)  And no matter the down sides of New Orleans living, when the brass band blares out "When the Saints Go Marching In", well, you want to be in that number! 
And for those of you who are interested, Sugar and my mother survived the weekend without incident.  Well, except for that one time when Mama said, "Sugar, come get your food" and Sugar thought she said, "Sugar, I'm gonna get your food" and there may or may not have been some sort of  scuffle involving the baring of teeth.  But, it's one's word against the other.  It was all just a big misunderstanding, I'm sure.  I just forgot to tell Mama that she needed to really enunciate when addressing Sugar. 

Well, y'all have a good Wednesday!    


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Blizzard of '17, the Reluctant Dog Sitter, and Unlikely Friends

Well, we're predicted to have a blizzard here in Mississippi today.  Well, by blizzard, I actually mean that the word, snow, has left the lips of the weatherman which, in the South, means that hysteria has ensued.  School is cancelled for tomorrow.  Offices are closed.  And I'm sure there's not a loaf of bread left in the Bible belt.....especially here in the buckle where we believe that white bread is manna in times of wintry despair and that God will help those who go out to gather it for their families.       

We don't know how to handle wintry precipitation down here.  We just don't.  We are experts in tornadoes.  Twisters love it here and we know just what to do about those.  We know how to stay safe in hell-like heat.  We know all the precautions to take to avoid being burned alive by the sun which is about 30 feet from the southern U.S. in the summertime.  And hurricanes?  Well, we wrote the handbook on how to survive those.  But, let the weatherman mention snow and we go to buying pallets of canned goods and bread and milk....totally losing sight of the fact that the temperatures will likely climb back into the upper 60's in a couple of days and we'll be running the air conditioning.  I know you, people from the North, get a big kick out of our snow frenzies but we just do better with weather that requires chain saws not tire chains. 

We're all headed to New Orleans for the weekend so we'll miss any snow fun that will be had.  It's our first wedding planning excursion as we're going to check out some possible venues.  My non-dog loving Mama is coming to dog sit.  Sugar knows when our bags are by the door that her Grandma is probably coming for a visit.  I can tell you that neither is excited.  Sugar's been looking at me like, "I see you've gotten the Vera Bradley out and I'm onto you.  You're going to leave me here with that lady who makes me go out every 10 minutes because she's afraid I'm going to wet the floor, aren't you?  Well, that's just great.  Just great."  I believe the last time they cohabitated, Sugar uncharacteristically did a boo-boo on the dining room floor just to spite her.  I can only hope this weekend goes more smoothly or our chances of securing her services again will be slim to none.  I'll let you know how it went when we return. 

Since this post is all over the place already, I wanted to share something sweet.  A year and a half ago, when Carson went on choir tour with our church youth group, the teens were each given the name of an elderly church member and they were asked to write a letter to the person during week.  I love that about the annual youth choir trips.  The kids are usually given some sort of writing assignment in which they have to use an actual pen and paper to express themselves for the benefit of others.  The world could use more pen and paper and less technology if you ask me, but I digress.

Anyway, Carson was given Mrs. Cowart's name.  He wrote her and the church mailed all the kids' letters when they returned home.  Assignment completed.  He did tell us about the letter when he got back from the trip but not much thought was given to it after that, I guess.  Until........she wrote back.  As is characteristic of the older generation, they never let a correspondence go unanswered or a gesture go un-thanked.  I love that about them.  We, younger people, could learn so much from the importance they place on relationships and the diligence with which they approach social graces.

Well, she wrote Carson about her love of fishing as she knew that would interest a teenage boy.  He would write her back and, before too many weeks would pass, another letter would arrive in the mailbox from her.  She told him about the largest fish she ever caught and so many other interesting things.  Some of her precious letters included a few dollars for Carson to use for "school supplies".  He would always be excited to write her back.....the boy who doesn't particularly care for writing all that much.  It's been a sweet thing to watch.  Two people, generations apart, who didn't really know each other, becoming friends through written words. 

Mrs. Cowart is very sick now and, tonight, I sat in the car while I watched Carson knock on her door.  He handed flowers through the door to her sitter and asked if she'd deliver them to her.  I thought how wonderful it was that the two of them connected through that writing assignment.  And how much his generation could learn from hers.  How much they have in common even though they grew up in such different times.  Please pray for Mrs. Cowart.........that the Lord will give her peace and mercy.  She is a sweet, sweet lady who took time to write a young man she didn't really know.  And she touched his heart. 

And mine.   

Y'all have a good weekend.  Stay warm and keep your bread handy.                    


Sunday, January 1, 2017

After the Holidays is Here, People

We had such a great Christmas!  It was a little on the warm side but Mississippians know that's always a strong possibility.  We wouldn't know a white Christmas if it came up and slapped us in the face.  For some reason, it seems like the heat just creeps up on us at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas down here.  After a while, you just learn to steer the kids toward the more ventilated Halloween costumes, forget looking seasonal and just wear short sleeves to eat turkey at your grandma's, and always be ready to run the air conditioner if you plan on serving hot Christmas cider.  Mississippi holiday problems.  We've got 'em.   

Well, here we are in 2017.  You know, for a couple of months now, we've been able to use the holidays as the comfy cushion between us and almost everything.  Our front airbag, if you will.  "I'll start that after the holidays" and "I'm going to do better after the holidays."  Well, dang it, it's after the holidays now. 

I don't know about you but I enjoy the week between Christmas and New Year's.  Seriously, is there another week during the year that expects less from us?  We've all been walking around here in sweat pants for a week.  Watching football 7 hours a day.  Asking each other what day it is.  Eating like those people who are missing the part of the brain that tells them that they're full.  No, I don't believe there's another week on the calendar that gives us all a pass like that last week of the year does.  No one ever says, "Let's get started on that project on December 27th" or "Let's start going to the gym on the 29th."  Pshhh.  Nope, eating, spending, working, exercising-December has already been blown to smithereens so why not just see it all the way through?    

Of course, it takes a good week to recover from the category 3 storm which is Christmas.  No other day of the year blows through with such force and dumps a mountain of "debris" in the middle of your house.  You know that first day after Christmas when everyone has their own pile of opened gifts in the family room?  Most of the wrapping garbage has been bagged up but there are still straggling pieces of tissue paper and stray shirt box halves with that one remnant of wrapping paper still hanging on by the Scotch tape......all scattered between the mounds of new stuff.  A day or two later, the gifts may make their way to their respective rooms where they sit on the floor there for another couple of days and may look something like this.....
Eventually, someone has to bite the bullet and make room in the bloated closets for all this new stuff....and we all know who that person usually is. 

Then, there are things like this laying around.  Those unfulfilled Christmas aspirations.
I saw this beautiful Christmas puzzle in the store and had visions of us all in our Christmas pajamas sipping hot chocolate, watching Christmas movies and working on it together while engaging in meaningful conversation and sharing what was on our hearts.  I got the 1,000 piece.  I think we're more of a 500 piece family.  Especially when 800 of the 1,000 pieces make up the sky.......the solid colored purple/pink sky.  None of us signed up for that.  The only thing on our hearts that we wanted to share with each other was how the puzzle was stupid and how it made us want to throw something through a window.  So, if you're looking for a family who has the perseverance to see a difficult task to its end, don't stop here.  That sucker went back in the box and into the attic.  Maybe, one day, if we all simultaneously break both of our legs at once and that puzzle is the only option we have to fill our time, then we may get it back out.  Otherwise, it will be available at our next garage sale for a more committed family. 

And there are the decorations that everyone dreads taking down during that week.  If nothing else does, that alone justifies a little extra down time.  The needles.  The glitter.  The ornament hooks getting hung up in the vacuum.  I'm that person who is always itching to take it all down on Christmas night.  I know I've just appalled some of you, twelve days of Christmas people, but it's just how I am.  I usually refrain until the morning after but then it's got to go.  No one likes Christmas more than me but when it's over, it's over.  There's no sense in drawing out the after-Christmas letdown.  You just have to rip the Band-Aid off and face the task of trying to remember what went where.   

Yes, all good things must come to an end.  Our week of hiding is over.  We knew, eventually, we'd have to put on pants with zippers again.  Wear a bra.  Go back to earning money.  Eat dishes that don't contain cream cheese or heavy whipping cream.  Begin to exhibit some self-restraint.  Wake up at an hour when it's not a struggle to decide if we should have breakfast or lunch.  And, yes, shower before the six o'clock news.   

Because a new beginning is nigh and yoga pants aren't allowed at the office.  We have to get back up and face life again without all the twinkly lights, the Bing Crosby music, and the tins of goodies in the break room.  It's gonna hurt for a few days.  But, there's something wonderful about getting back to normal.  Christmas is all good and warm and fuzzy but normal is where most of life happens.  It'll be good to go back there for a while. Twinkly lights wouldn't seem near as pretty if they burned all year.

Whatever you said you were going to start after the holidays, I hope you get a jump on it today!