Thursday, December 27, 2007

Revisiting the Christmas Catywompus

TBM (the blessid mother) doesn't read my blog too regularly; she is a busy woman. She works full time, manages the bulk of the household duties and family's finances, and is a caregiver to her beloved friend, a geriatric dog named Sampson. The other day she had an opportunity to read my blog, and it evoked some negative emotions within her.

Although she is savvy in many ways, for whatever reason, she had trouble posting her comment to my "Christmas Catywompus" blog, so I asked her about it.

After her short, but meaningful explanation, I felt very foolish about my very one-dimensional and somewhat cynical, minimization of our Christmas family gatherings. Let me explain:

One of the things I love best about coming home at Christmastime is the "Christmas-y-ness" of my parents' home. From the inside out, the house is adorned with decorations and lights. Lovingly wrapped packages in bright paper and beautiful tied ribbons wait beneath the boughs of our Christmas tree. TBM and TWO (the wise one) dedicate a lot of time to decorating the tree with lights (which must be woven around the tree branches and hundreds of ornaments placed "just so.") Wreaths TBM makes herself are on the walls, each decoration chosen with care - from the nativity candelabra to the bathroom towels. Literally every room in the lower level of the house is Christma-fied. And not in an "over the top" way, in a very classy, meticulous way. My mother isn't the type of woman who would fill her yard with as many lawn ornaments as possible; they are carefully chosen. She is kind of an artist when it comes to decorating the house.

Beyond the decorations and all of the shopping, and the wrapping, which must in an of themselves take hours, she bakes. TBM bakes and bakes and bakes. This year there were seven different kinds of cookies and candies she made. Is it any wonder the stove has kicked the bucket? It's exhausted. Yet TBM keeps on going. Why?

By Christmas Eve, when family shows up, the house is warm and welcoming, like something out of a Hallmark movie. The food is delicious and well-prepared. TBM has only a couple of wishes, that everyone enjoy the food that has been prepared, and the company - in the atmosphere she has painstakingly provided.

TBM, who has been married 27 years and has two children in their 20s, is wise in the ways of youthful ignorance so she understood how from my (single, never-married, childless) point of view I could misunderstand what the whole experience means. How TBM's gift to her family, in a way, is the Christmas experience.

Minimizing Christmas gatherings to mere buffet-style social events is deeply flawed and unfair, and even, arguably, very cynical. I may be cynical about a lot of things, but I love Christmas with my family, in my mother's beautiful house, enjoying her homemade cookies. I think I may have projected my own issues onto Christmas. I feel like during the Christmas holiday I behave like a lazy cow. But I am the only one to blame for that. Christmas, nor how the family spends the time we share together, has nothing to do with my inability to keep the cookie-fever at bay.

Actually, spending Christmas together, just chatting, enjoying the good food and drink (in moderation) and good company, is probably the way God would want it. After all, when he was making the the world and the universe, on the seventh day he didn't go bowling or skiing - he just "saw that it was good" and rested. Why wouldn't TBM want to have that same opportunity?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Alternatives to "Sit. Eat. Repeat."

1. Just eat a meal and call it a night - it doesn't have to take three or four hours.
2. Ski.
3. Bowl.
4. See a movie.
5. Go to church.
6. Take a drive and look at lights.
7. Work at a food shelf.
8. Play games.
9. Go to the casino - there is something for everyone there!
10. Karoke.

Christmas Catywompus

Making it home for Christmas all safe and sound = good. I could have used Rudolph to navigate some of the heavy, nuissance fog just west and east of the Madison area. Thank goodness for the steady stream of tail light illumination provided by the more confident, or maybe foolhardy, motorists who passed me by. Yes, I made it home.

I like to visit home, but returning for a holiday occassion is a lot of "hurry up and wait." For whatever reason, maybe because I no longer live at home, maybe because I am deemed incompetent in domestic areas, little is required of me in the way of holiday preparation. This may sound good, but in actuality, it leaves little for me to do but sit in anticipation of whatever party we are about to host or attend. And then all we do is eat and talk, talk and eat. I think Christmas would be a lot more fun if instead of sitting and eating we took a family trip somewhere for the day, or just part of the day. Maybe we could all go bowling. This might not work for those older family members, but at least they can get out and see something other than the house. That in and of itself might be fun.

Or skiing. Older family members can sit in the lodge and play cards while the little kids tire themselve out.

But holidays seem to involve three to five hours of a group of people stuffing their faces, staring at each other, and conveying information that can be shared in 30 minutes or less. I can tell people what is going on in my life in 15 minutes or less. There are no babies to play with, or kids to watch. Just a bunch of us dull grownups sitting around slowing getting fat.

This is not to say I don't love my family, because I do. I would be OK if we all just had a dinner together and went to church. That would be cool with me.

Instead, I can't relax for the next two hours because people will be coming over. And if I look too relaxed, mom will look at me and probably get mad. Just because I appear to be relaxing and she of course, cannot relax and probably needs help with things. But then, I am not qualified enough for the important jobs in the kitchen, and dad has already done everything else. So here I hide, out of everyone's way. Waiting for it to be safe to emerge.

Monday, December 17, 2007


te • gen • ate (transitive verb)
Pronounciation: \tag-en-āt\
Inflected form(s): te·gen·at·ed; te·gen·at·ing
Date: 2007
: to provide with an unequaled, super-human determination.
— te·gen·a·tive \-ˌvā-tiv\ adjective
— te·gen·a·tor \-ˌvā-tər\ noun

I Did It

I bought and mailed ALL of my Christmas cards...before CHRISTMAS!!!! I can't BELIEVE it. What a TRIUMPH. What an achievement. This could be one of the proudest days in my life. I even sent one to the lady at Hardees who knows my order without even asking. Cheers!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deep Dark Secrets and Shames

I have a hobby I enjoy. It is called singing...s-i-n-g-i-n-g.

Talking about it is hard, actually doing it (in a public setting) is some how sacrilegious. Blogging about it, as I am now, is somehow easier.

I really love singing. It makes me happy. My favorite songs to sing are standards, the sorts of which were made popular by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, and so on. I also love to sing scores from musicals. "Annie Get Your Gun," "Phantom of the Opera," "West Side Story" (which celebrated its 25 anniversary this year), and "My Fair Lady" are some of my very favorites.

Sometimes, I like to try singing opera. Not REAL opera, per se, by the kind of watered down version brought to the mainstream public by Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church. They are dear friends of mine (I have multiple CDS) and I mean them no disrespect, of course.

Once and a while I think I am a good singer, and maybe, if I had enough guts (and talent), I could learn how to play piano or some other instrument and sing a bunch of cover songs to an audience at Jackpot Junction or some place like that. You don't have to be gorgeous, or even all THAT good, to do that. I know. I've seen the bands that play there. I am not talking about when Tony Bennet comes to town. I am talking about the little itty bitty venue by the bar. I could do that. Couldn't I?

I don't want to be on American Idol, I don't even really want anyone to know who I am. I just want to be able to sing without feeling like I should be ashamed about it.

Now that I have my own house, I have a place I can sing -- and practice. I couldn't in the apartment. I was too self conscious that someone would hear.

I am probably not that good at it. But I feel like I have the right genetic make up for it and I could be, at the very least, a decent singer. Worthy of being in a choir at a church, or maybe even something more. I took voice lessons for a semester in college, and I was told I had the potential to be just as good as the best singer in my class - or better, I just needed to be more polished and have more control. That felt pretty good considering she had been classically trained for most of her life.

I am 26 years old now, which makes me too old to be a child prodigy, but not too old to try something I really want to do. Hopefully I can kick this shame thing and accept that singing is OK for me to do.

Top 10 Achievements for December

10. Remembering to update the budget almost as often as old information needs to be replaced -- and in a timely manner.
9. Riding my recumbent bike almost every day since The Cable arrived.
8. Buying Mom's Christmas gift. At least someone was easy.
7. Remembering *not to forget* to buy Christmas cards to send to everyone, which will happen this weekend.
6. Thinking about what to buy for people before Dec. 22
5. Making plans in advance - I already have something planning for January.
4. Reforming the Dog. Yeah, right.
3. Being social at the work Christmas party.
2. Bowling a 203.
1. Friends For Life

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Trouble 'At Home'

The Dog has been having some issues since we moved into our new place. She appears to have developed Jedi powers that enable her to move rugs, purses, and other items into her cage without actually leaving the cage herself. Needless to say, she is using her powers for evil and may very well be building a Death Star somewhere in the three-season porch. The vilest of her heinous acts took place Tuesday, Dec. 4. On that day, she destroyed my favorite winter coat. It looked like she killed a bunch of geese in her kennel, as the down feathers that kept me so nice and warm while I shoveled all weekend were scattered in her cage. I could have cried. She can truly be a hateful beast. Now though, she has four sheets of corrugated cardboard on three of the four sides of her kennel, preventing her from even so much as FANTASIZING about the damage she could do to any of the few items remaining in the “dog room.” I have hindered her mobility by wedging her kennel between two tables. The arrangement worked for one day. We will see how things look by the end of day two…

Time to Ventilate

I am feeling really tired and there is a funny feeling in my throat that corresponds to another funny feeling below the back of my jaw. Lymph nodes? I don't know. Now I will run over to Wal-Mart and get my oil changed. Then I shall go to the video store and rent the next disc in season 7 of CSI: Las Vegas. This will be the last night I rent a video for a long time because I am getting cable tomorrow. Yeay!

Sticking to my budget is really hard right now, because it is Christmas-time and suddenly all of my clothes seem to pale in comparison to the brightness of the season. At times like these, I try to remind myself I am beyond my ideal weight and therefore would not relish the trying-on-of-clothes-experience anyway. Besides, generally the clothes look nicer on the rack than they do on the people. I am trying to get more exercise into, and more calories out of, my life, but it will be a while before those small changes will show. In the meantime, I have to run on faith alone and glare at the middle-aged women who bring their UNENDING parade of Christmas cookies and candies to work. Yes, I may write about cows, but that doesn't mean I want to look like one.

Work, problems at home* and seasonal stress are also bringing out the best in me; an impromptu period, weight gain, and nail biting.

I have some good news regarding my budget. The Holidays will be dealing it a gentler blow than I originally thought. That is welcome news. Tomorrow I will get a self addressed stamped envelope and in an attempt to secure more financial stability instruct my landlord (former) to get my deposit back to me. However much remains. He is an asshole though (sorry Grandma, but that is the most appropriate word to describe him) so I am sure he will keep all $400.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I am thankful that I moved into my new place well before the first of the month, this past Saturday, a day that will be known in history as the day the "great snows came." OK, maybe not exactly. We DID receive 6.5 inches of snow though, so I was able to put my new shovel and coveralls to some serious use.