Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reflecting on This Year's Resolutions

href="http://peterpollock.com/2010/12/reflection-blog-carnival/">Today's One Word for the One Word blog carnival is Reflection.   Since we are almost at the end of 2010, I have decided to reflect on my progress with this year's New Year Resolutions.   There have been years where I didn't make any resolutions, but at the beginning of 2010, I decided I need to work on some things.
href="http://randommusings-helen.blogspot.com/2010/01/yes-i-made-couple-of-new-year.html">I made two New Year resolutions this year: to pick something to be grateful to God for daily, and to be a friend to myself.

First of all, I did not tweet daily about something new I was grateful for having.  I may have lasted a week or two.  I later gave myself permission to be repetitive, and  then later, to not tweet it, but to thank God privately.  I don't purposely sit at my bedside any longer thinking "Hmmm... what shall I be grateful for today.....", but I do find myself blurting a thank you to God when I find a lost passport, or send an email and remember that it wasn't so long ago that "snail mail" was the only mail, and that it took some effort for people to get back to you (and vice versa), so that a response would take more than a week if lucky, or use a pen to paper and thank God that I can read and write...   I'm sure there are days when I forget to thank God for something, and other days where I thank Him more often.

Secondly, how good of a friend was I to myself?  I would say that I worked on it and did better than I have in the past.   I ended up choosing one thing a month to improve on.   I drink more tea than coffee, I choose water more than soda pop, I was eating less sweets (until the limited edition fudge mint covered Oreo cookies came out, anyway...), I eat only wheat bread, I choose the whole wheat pasta, I was cooking a vegetable with every meal until Bob's allergy scared me, I do stretchy exercises (no, not yoga.   I'm not that stretchy), and my "self talk" has improved (I think the Women's Prayer group has a lot to do with that, BTW....).  I was supposed to do more exercising, but in the summer was short of breath and six weeks ago hurt my toes....  It didn't happen.  I haven't given up though.  My toes are fine now and I am not out of breath.  It's too snowy to walk outside, but then that's why God invented shopping malls and Costco, right people?

Are the changes I made lasting changes?  Some are.   I like wheat bread and whole wheat pasta.   I find tap water is available as I do my daily tasks and easier to get to than a bottle of pop (which then creates garbage for me to throw out).  I like the way it is easy to get variety with tea rather inexpensively compared with coffee.  I'm not fond of stretchy exercises though, and I need to get back "on the wagon" with sweets.  I found in October that some clothes that hadn't fit me for a while (and didn't give away because it felt like giving up) now fit, so I must have done okay with my resolutions (though weight loss itself was not the resolution... too many years of disappointment to set myself up again).  I think realistically, I can get back on the wagon by January 3.   Honestly, I still have places to go and people to see who know my fondness for the fudge mint covered Oreo (and I have two boxes left).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So Tell Me, Will I Be Able to Wiggle My Pinky Toe?

Because I wasn't able to before....

What does an elephant do if it breaks a toe?
Gives up ballet dancing.

Good news!   The tape is off the toesies!  I have been away from my computer for a while because I cracked three of my toes in four places.   I know.   What does that have to do with anything?   It's not like I type with my toes!   Well, for the first three weeks, the doctor wanted me to have my foot elevated at all times,  minus eating and peeing of course.  And of course I went to Church and taught CCD.  And of course I went to Christmas parties.  In other words, I obeyed the doctor 95% the time, which is the best I've done in obeying a man since my daddy was alive.   (Bob has a special kind of way of convincing me he is right so that by the end of a discussion I usually agree with him, so the word "obey" hardly fits in such situations.)  And speaking of Bob, he was a darling who even took on the cooking responsibilities while I was elevating my foot.   Unfortunately, we couldn't figure out a position for me at my computer desk that would allow my toes to be higher than my heart.
The next two weeks the doctor allowed me to put weight on my foot and do what I want, but with the tape still on it.  That meant that for every hour I spent on my foot, I wanted it elevated for an hour and a half.   (Really.  My feet swell during the day, and swollen and taped toesies are no fun.   It feels like the tape is trying to choke the toes.   That's right.  My toes couldn't breathe!)
So now with Christmas a few days away, I need to spend time cleaning house.  My only company is my uncle who knows the situation, but still, it wouldn't look very hospitable if my house was a mess.  I won't be able to make up for five weeks in a few days, so my decorating is limited to a wreath and tree in the window, the throws my mom made on the furniture, and a poinsettia on the dining room table.  I suppose that since this is my first Christmas without Momma, I really don't want more than that (except for Bob to find the creche) anyway, but now I have a reasonable excuse.
So now that the tape is off the toesies, I can dance on the table for Christmas!  (Not really.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

My mom and dad were great people.  They loved each other, me, and Christmas ( I can't even begin to  say in which order).  However, one thing my  Daddy did NOT love was putting up a tree.   I was allergic to pine, so we couldn't have real tree.  We had a plastic tree, my guess is about eight feet high.  I have pictures to prove it was at LEAST two feet taller than Daddy, who was six feet tall.   Back then, plastic trees weren't folded in for storage, then folded out to decorate.   No, they had to be put in branch by branch by branch.     There were little numbers with letters on the stem to let the assembler know which row a particular branch belonged.  I swear, I remember  branches named "12 F".

The storage box that contained these branches was awkward to get up the stairs from the basement.   Daddy was grumpy by the time he carried it to the living room, and that's putting it nicely.   Thus would begin my parent's yearly "putting up the tree" fight.

Daddy:  Who the HELL put these branches in here like this!
Momma: You take the tree down and put away the branches every year, Frankie, and you know it!
Daddy:  HMMPHH!!!! (grumble grumpble grumble).

(Daddy proceeds to put the tree up, starting with the topper)

Daddy: There, that'll do!
Momma:  (face crumpling a bit)  No it won't, and you know it!
Daddy: (grumple grumble grumble)

(Daddy continues to mumble and grumble for a while, and gets to row 10 B)

Daddy: Who the HELL ever picked out this damn tree anyway!
Momma:  Well, don't blame your daughter, she wasn't even born yet.
Daddy:  I WASN'T blaming Helen....
Momma:  I know, Frankie.  Lighten up!  It's Christmas!
Daddy:  (chewing on a Muriel air tip cigar whilst sitting among piles of large branches).   Yeah yeah....   Then I get to carry up the tree ornament boxes, and then all those knickknacks your Mom bought us over the years...........   You know she forgot what she's given us and we have 3 pairs of Christmas tree salt shakers from Wieboldt's!
Momma:  DON'T start with me, Frank!
Daddy:  What, you know it's true!   And the ash trays, and the ...
Momma: Just STOP it!  I won't discus my mother or her gifts with you when you are like this!
Daddy:  Like what?

(And off they are into a full blown argument that meanders into every annoying thing the other did since last Christmas.   No, we haven't even begun to untangle the lights yet.)

My Momma, God rest her soul, was usually peaceable for as long as possible.   Seriously.

But one year when I was in college, my Mom started her own bad mood.   She knew what to expect when Daddy went down for the tree, and she was seething with memories of Christmas tree assemblages past.

Daddy puts on his jacket and heads for the door.

Momma:  Where are you going?
Daddy:  To the basement...
Momma:  You better not be bringing up the tree!
Daddy:  Why not!
Momma:   I don't even want a tree this year!  I don't want any
Daddy: (interrupting her)  Really Honey?  Do you mean it?  (His eyes are shining and he is holding her affectionately at her shoulders)
Momma:  (stunned silence)
Daddy:  Oh Honey,  I'll bring up EVERY one of the decorations your mother gave us!  I'll clean them piece by piece, and I'll even help you find a good spot for the duplicates!
Momma:  If that's what you'd like!
Daddy:  This is the best Christmas gift ever!   Where should we put the lights?

That scaled back Christmas was delightful!  No harsh words or grumpiness whatsoever:  Daddy was soappreciative of not having to work on the branches that nothing else bothered him and Momma was  stunned that the first year she pumps herself up for the argument, it deflates before it begins.

In November I injured my foot.   I'm barely able to clean house, much less decorate.   Bob brought up the tree and a wreath, I put up the Christmas throws my mother made, and that's it.  I'm not worrying about Grandma's knickknacks, mom's ornaments, MIL's centerpiece, or decorative gifts I received in past years.   I enjoy them most years, but this year, with the tape on my foot, all that running around would not make Christmas more meaningful, but a chore to get through.  I may put a Christmassy table cloth on the dining room table, or I may not.   Decorating doesn't HAVE to get done to prepare for Christmas.    If Jesus comes back and finds my house  lit a bit dimmer, I'd be more comfortable with that than for him to find me frazzled and grumbling at those who love me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do They Get the Hallmark Channel in Heaven?

Last year for the One Word blog carnival, Grief was one of the topics we wrote about in December. The gist of my post was that Christmas is a tough time to grieve, and I shared my prayer for those who are grieving to find it in their hearts to rejoice in the birth of their own Savior, and hopefully the Savior of the one / ones they lost.

This December, we are blogging on the opposite word, Rejoice, for the One Word Blog carnival. A much more fitting topic during this season, you'd think, except for the fact that this is my first Christmas without my Mom. I wept on the First Easter and Mother's Day without her. I went to her grave site on my birthday. I held it together for the most part her birthday, but then, I had a Mass said for her and was blessed to have my aunt, uncle and cousins there to offer support.

I miss her. I watch a new movie on the Hallmark Channel, and when it is over, I tear up thinking about how much mom would have enjoyed the movie. Then this little voice says in my ear "Really Helen? You think your Momma is thinking 'Yes, the fruits of Heaven are nice, but it's too bad I had to miss 'Debbie Macomber's Call Me Mrs. Miracle'?" And I laugh. As delightful as that movie was, I know that Momma isn't missing a thing.

I listen to Bing Crosby singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", and I start to sing, then I feel guilty because Momma loved Bing Crosby and I shouldn't feel like singing the first year she is gone. Then I remember how much Mom loved to hear me sing, (not that I sing well, just that she was the kind of Momma who was happy when I was happy, you know...), and I know that it would sadden her if the songs left my heart. (Besides that, she gets to hear Bing Crosby LIVE this Christmas, right?)

I think of how the last few years I prayed that those who grieve would be able to rejoice at Christmas in the birth of their own and their loved one's Savior, and I am amazed at the tenderness of God... He has given me the very gift I prayed for others.

Praise Him!

"Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day
Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

For a moment the world was aglow, all the bells rang out
there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted
"let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace".

These words make me weep with overwhelming joy.

"Oh my Lord, You sent your son to save us
Oh my Lord, Your very self you gave us
Oh my Lord, That sin may not enslave us
And love may reign once more "