a Holiday Pictorial

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for your kind words on Saturday. The funeral arrangements are finalized; they’re…a little unusual, but then, so was Gail.

We were with my family for Christmas Eve festivities this year, and I learned something that I really should have guessed: my grandmother is an Uno shark. Oh, sure, she’s over 80 and blind in one eye, and she’ll you that she can’t tell the blue cards from the green, but don’t think that will stop her from trouncing you and anyone else at the table. Ooooh, no.  When I was very little, she and my grandfather and three of their closest couple-friends used to play cards – canasta mostly, and rook – on the weekends, sometimes till wee hours of the morning at our kitchen table. We had a little bar-like area in the family room of that house and I used to set myself up there with water, soda, and a bucket of ice and serve as “bartender” till I had to go to bed. Should’ve known her deprecating demeanor was just hiding her card hustling skills. Last night she and I and John played game after game of uno till nearly midnight.

But before all that, there was dinner and playing with the pets and opening presents and…general happy togetherness. Fantastic evening.

And I have pictures!!

It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas…

Just found out that there is some manner of holiday lunch here tomorrow – for which I should bring some food. It seems this is to be the opposite of the Thanksgiving lunch; there’s no turkey, no ham, no huge list of sides to bring, but finger foods, chips-and-dip, crackers, and stuff. So I’m going to make pimento cheese sandwiches and use a cookie cutter to make them tree-shaped, I think. 

I’ve also been working on Estelle’s stripey blanket and Jeanne’s hat (yeah, she’ll probably read this, but she asked for a hat, she ought to know she’s getting one…but she doesn’t get to know what colour or style, haha.), and I’m kinda in a crafty mood. I think I have one more crafty project up my sleeve..and it won’t get where it needs to go by Christmas, but that’s ok, it’ll just spread out the gifty fun. 

Meanwhile, every patient we have has decided they must talk to us before the holidays. Oy vey. Back to the phones.


Bags are packed, re-packed, and double-checked; all systems are go. I feel very prepared. I’ve nothing else to do now but wait…maybe run one final errand…take a hot bath…have some warm tea…watch Serenity…and dye my hair blue.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that? I’m dying my hair turquoise before I leave tomorrow. The way I figure it, I’m about to embark on a small adventure that will never happen again, even if I someday return to London. It’s two whole weeks of freedom, a break away from everything normal and familiar. Why not take it farther, take the oppurtunity to do more things I might never get to do again? Because I, unfortunately, have to work for a living, and most places of employment these days frown upon blue-haired employees. To be honest…I really wanted to finally get my nose pierced before I left too. But I’m afraid if I get it and it can’t heal before I go, I’ll get some strange disease off in Furn Parts and it’ll get infected and my nose will fall off.
…actually, I just never found the time to grab Jeanne and go do it, but the disease thing sounds better.

My mother is thrilled about the hair, by the way. She liked my reasoning for doing it, but had one of her own: “That’s great! They can’t lose you in a crowd. If something should happen to go wrong, the police will find you quickly; ‘she has blue hair!'” 

My  mom, clearly, is awesome.

An Open Letter

The rage and utter frustration I felt when I composed this all in my head are long since gone, dissipated by good food and warm hugs,  fleece quilts and Christmas songs on the radio, but the sentiment isn’t any less valid because it’s calmer now. I believe it bears saying, even if I’m no longer in the mood to yell.


You may take your dumbed down, jazzed up, desanitised, demoralised, degraded and disheartening excuse for a “Holiday Season” and shove it up your collective ass. You have taken Christmas and wiped it clean, leeched it dry of emotion and meaning, made it pc and palatable for the average consumer’s consumption. We have become a nation of overly sensitive, pansy-assed whiners far too willing to cry victim, and you are doing nothing to slow that process by giving in to the madness of equal freedom through opression of all.

I have been thus far able to ignore the swelling tide of intolerance by cheerfully doing just that – ignoring it. This year, you have struck a personal blow. You have taken away my music. The songs I grew up with, the songs I sang as a child, the songs I still sing to myself in the car, in the shower, in the dark at night when there’s nothing left but the frost on the window and the glow of Christmas tree lights – you have dubbed them all outdated, old-fashioned, and unworthy of your new, improved Holiday.

This year, I will send away every customer I serve with a smile and a “Merry Christmas.” And they will return that smile, and that greeting, and some of them will even thank me just for saying it, for not giving it to the “Happy Holidays” craze. You have no heart, no soul; there is no magic in your world of “buy and sell and get gain.” This does not give you the right to take it from ours.

Drip drip drop, little april showers…

That subject line? Complete non-sequitur. Has nothing to do with anything except that the song is stuck in my head. 

You know, some things are just not worth my mental energy; blaming myself for stuff that couldn’t possibly be my fault is one of those things. I should recall that more often, or at least sooner than I usually do.

I had to fight not to be a total spaz today at work. It was slow and boring, at least for me, and it was all I could do not to grab a ball of yarn and some needles and go make a nest in the pillow form bins. I could’ve had a scarf by the end of the day, I bet. As it was, I think I made a fairly accurate packing list of clothes I want to take with me — sight unseen, no less. I would’ve gone to a busier department, but there were three people there and only one little me in my area, so they requested that I stay put. I did see a tiny dog today at work, though. In a little leather Harley jacket and antlers; reminded me of the dog from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A bit of Dr Suess wisdom for you: Christmas is always within our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp.

“Give her everything she wants, and nothing she needs.” It’s the slogan from this year’s Victoria’s Secret commercials. Personally, I like getting things I need, saves me from having to buy it myself, but hey, if ‘things I don’t need’ translates to ‘cute, sexy underwear’ then what the hell, sign me up.

sweet silver bells

Wasn’t what I intended for my first entry here, but it was sparked the entry of a friend — all of which I agreed with, far too much. 

I grew up with a very large extended family. At Thanksgiving or Christmas we’d all coverge on my grandmother’s sister’s house in Pulaski, have this giant dinnner, and retire to couches and chairs and occasionally pillows on the floor, depending on your age and size (I was always on the floor…)to catch up on what we’d all missed in the intervening year.

My grandfather was always the oldest in the room, so he always said the blessing at dinner. His words were few, but heartfelt, and no matter the religious affiliations in the room, we never parted with the tradition. When he gave the blessing at the first Thanksgiving after we brought my uncle home from the hospital…it was the first time I ever heard him cry.

Until recent years provided me with a passel of tiny third cousins, I was always the youngest. The buzz of conversation went on all around me and over my head. It should be noted, however, that I didn’t sit in a corner with a book in those days when I had nothing I say. I sat right down in the very center of the room, turned my back to the fireplace, and played with whatever toy I’d brought with me or whatever I’d dragged down from the attic. If I got tired, I’d find a conventient lap; there were plenty to go around. There was no safer, warmer place in the world than that hard floor, and I doubt there will ever be again.

The older I got, the older everyone else got, and as they all had many, many years on me, our circle began shrinking steadily when I was 16 or so. My grandmother’s sister (my aunt Lene, so I don’t have to keep calling her that) moved out of her old farmhouse and into town. My uncle had all his health problems; we couldn’t take him anywhere easily, and no one could quite come to us.My aunt Lene died, and I spent my Thanksgiving holiday in a hospital waiting room, explaining to her greatgrandchildren why everyone was sad and crying.

I watched my grandfather decline daily from Alzheimer’s and I thought any reason I might’ve had to celebrate was surely gone. He’d find me sometimes at night and ask me questions. Some nights, he thought I was my mother, but some nights he knew that I was me and he’d ask what I was doing and how school as going and I’d tell him and he’d beam at me and be so proud. I lived for those moments, and I remembered them when he couldn’t remember his daughter or his own wife, when he thought our house a nursing home that he couldn’t leave, and when he’d get angry  because he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t see his parents, who’d been dead for twenty years. He died in April two years ago, and though that last year was hell, I remember thanking anything that cared to listen to me that I’d had that one last year. I can’t count the times I told him I loved, just to make sure he’d remember. 

And then I started working retail. It’s a craft store, so the air of creativity alleviates a little of the oppressive commercialism, but working retail during the holidays really is as bad as they all say. 

My little family is getting smaller, and I’m getting further away from it. What once was a warm, safe, security blanket of a holiday has slowly become associated with pain and loss, greed and appearance. I realized a while ago how easy it would be to crawl inside a cynical shell, to reject the entire season for any number of reasons…but then I got angry. Really furious. And also determined. All the apathy and cynicism in the world can’t take what’s mine unless I allow it too — so I simply won’t allow it. I have all my old memories, locked away in my head to be reviewed any time I want. And I’ll make new memories. I will play in the snow and get my tongue stuck to icecicles and crochet scarfs for my friends and smile and say Merry Christmas to everyone I see (even though I’m not supposed to, for the sake of political correctness) and sing Christmas carols to the stars after dark on Christmas Eve and just you try to stop me. The world is not going to hand me happy holidays anymore, so I’ll make them myself. They’ll have meaning because I say they do, not just because they should.