Christmas 2021

I gave myself permission to break traditions. I don’t have to do everything. Or anything.

People kind of freak out about that. What? No tree? Am I okay? Is something wrong? Sad face, hugs and care emoticons.  Sheez. Can’t imagine being ME?

Okay, I will admit that slapping a wreath upon the door without decorating the interior of your home is ye equivalent to hiding depression behind a smile, but can we normalize being “alone” on holidays?

I’m tired of pretending life is a Hallmark movie fantasy, of silently letting others assume that I might have plans, that God forbid I wake up “alone” on Christmas morn just the same as I do on the 364 other days of the year.

Side note:  “alone” is in quotation marks because the word is defined differently by those who thrive in solitude than those who find being alone with their own self for any length of time to be unbearable misery.

Permission extends to all aspects of holiday prep. Do I need to bake cookies in all those varieties? No… one batch with grandchildren, sent home with the boys. That’s enough. I made Chex Mix with only my favorite ingredients, heavy on the peanuts.

My sweet treat for company this year will be a special pie baked in a rectangular dish, which I’ve yet to bake as I don’t know when my daughter plans to stop by, might not be until Boxing Day. She’s got her own traditions started… making memories with her children. They snuggle in for a family movie night on Christmas Eve. I suggested getting together on the 26th as their 25th is already a full day, better to enjoy a relaxed visit than a pop in and out, on to the next.

That’s part of it, letting go of old ways to make way for the new, the next generation takes the stage, does things their own way. It is a letting go of preconceived notions, of letting things just be, and being open to my own next. This is the space in-between.

Thanks for reading!

BTW, I decorated in Fishdom. It’s the only game I play, much to my grandson’s amazement. Grandma’s on level… what?

Screenshot of grandma’s game, lol.

Cinnamon Heart

I must have watched (or listened to, as the TV was on while doing other things) way too many sappy Christmas stories over the weekend as I just woke up from a sappy Christmas dream with a twist common to a lot of those stories: past loves showing up around the holidays to throw a monkey wrench into the current situation.  Every man I have ever truly loved was here, with the exception of one, but a large padded envelope addressed to him in his own handwriting was in my mailbox.  It was stuck between two packages for Rodney and an art supply catalog addressed to one of my computer passwords instead of my name. I saw the package addressed to Ed, but just handed the whole stack of mail off to Rodney and he walked away.  Then I spent the rest of the dream looking for it, wondering what happened to it, and thinking it was something I had mailed coming back to sender as undeliverable.  But how could that be, when his name was written in his own handwriting?  I was asking if anyone knew where it was, but no one else had seen it.  Some man was there trying to sell us a little Santa bag of food, pulling out two plump turkeys already cooked, a honey glazed ham, a beautifully frosted Yule log cake… reaching into the little bag and pulling out something else much to Xman’s delight while I kept saying no, that was way too much food for one woman who lives alone. I thought it was a distraction to keep me from finding that package.  I searched all over, then finally sat down with the art supply catalog, was flipping through the pages when I woke up.

The funny thing is that I knew in the dream that every man I have ever loved was there in the dream, even though if you counted them, there was only two.  Three including the name on the missing package.  Maybe he wasn’t there because I don’t have a face to go with that name anymore, at least not a grown man’s face as the last time I saw him was in 1976. I suppose the funny thing is who wasn’t there… the passing fancy, infatuations, and the two men I had almost married even though I knew that I loved them but not enough or not in the right way.

Maybe it is true, that when you really truly love someone, just love with a purity of heart, that never completely goes away.  It is not something you can turn on and off like a faucet.  Sure, it dwindles down to almost nothing to the point you could deny it’s there, like my love for Ed became a tiny little seed planted deep into a quiet part of my heart where it never got nourished and the soil around it became barren, not able to sustain life anymore.  Sometimes, love changes if the conditions are not right to let a flower bloom.  I still love Xman (my ex-husband), but it is not the same as it used to be. It morphed into being “old friends with history” after plenty of cultivating to be able to get along with each other enough to be friends who don’t hang out together.  We are grandma and grandpa to our daughter’s children and will be for the rest of our lives.

As for Rodney, Lord knows I’d marry him in a New York minute, but I also know that he will never ask so that is pretty much a mute point.  I just love him, always have, in that feels ancient older that dirt kind of way.  The man has issues.  And the fact remains that 2014 will mark a decade passing since he abruptly up and moved in a “I’m not leaving you, I’m leaving Ohio” kind of way.  Truth be told, it took years before we could kick back and relax, enjoy each other’s company when he did live in Ohio because we were both fighting a mutual attraction that neither one of us was ready for, so strong it scared me. Months would pass without seeing each other, then cross paths and zing, zing, zamm… a tilt of his head and I would melt like a pat of butter on a hot griddle.  Even after we got comfy with each other, the man could still curl my toes with a single kiss.  Now we are “long distance friends” and yes, I still love him.  But I am not pining away hoping for things that will never be.  He’s like the chorus of a Montgomery Gentry song, “Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday, Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang, Gone like a ’59 Cadillac, Like all the good things that ain’t never coming back…”

Yes, he’s gone.  He ain’t never coming back.  Ohio has too many bitter memories for him and the sweet memories are tainted by loss.  He gave up, walked away, not that the fight wasn’t worth fighting for, he just did what he thought was best for someone else, a child who didn’t need caught in the middle.  He thought his leaving would make his teenage son’s life easier, hoped that he was old enough to understand, to know that his dad would always love him.  Now the kid is a grown man who has absolutely nothing to do with his father.  Sometimes, I’d like to grab both of them and lock them into a room until they work it out, find a resolution just like in one of those sappy Christmas movies.

One of the factors playing into my decision to move downtown was I caught myself waiting.  I told Rodney that I found a part of myself hoping he would ask me to move there.  He was surprised.  The thought never crossed his mind.  Oh well.  What is, is what it is… we are long distance friends, old friends with history and as precious as that is, that is all it is. And odds are, that is all it will ever be.  I cannot fold geography so we can’t even hang out, enjoy each other’s company.  Maybe this is the way it is supposed to be.  A little birdie says that if he really wanted to be with me, then he would be here with me even though he don’t mind suffering needlessly or he’d be here in Ohio trying to make amends and set things right with his son.  Of course, other factors play in heavily, such as the lack of funds.  I want Hallmark endings and those pretend people on TV rarely have any money issues.

One of my decisions about moving downtown was to allow myself to be open to new possibilities.  I still love every man I ever loved, but I am not dead yet.  I can love again.  I don’t have a cinnamon heart laid out to dry up as hard as a rock like the “air freshener” ornaments that I made this weekend.


Homemade Apple Cinnamon “Air Fresheners” laid out to dry.


I thought about changing names to protect the innocent or not so innocent, but oh well… if anyone is mad at me for writing my thoughts out in a blog post, they will get over it… or not.

A part of me says I should not write about my friend’s longing to reconnect with his son, but what if… what if these two men are both suffering needlessly?   Ten long years… each thinking the other doesn’t want him in their lives?

I want a Christmas Miracle… on the off chance the son reads this blog post, please contact your father.   Do it the old fashioned way… mail a card or pick up the phone.   (He’s not online right now.)  If you feel like smacking him, get in his face, tell him off, punch him if you have to… then talk it out.   He’s not the same man your mother knew… life changes people.  The Rodney I know is kind, thoughtful, considerate, helpful, and encouraging.  He’s a bit shy yet animated (talks with his whole body, just not his hands).  He’s been clean and sober since before I met him with maybe a few slips in the early years (showed up drunk once in 1998).  He likes cookies.  He has a sharp mind and a keen sense of humor.  He’s into art and music and texts while watching TV.  He decorates inside and out for Halloween and Christmas.  He lives alone with four cats.  And he has a hole in his heart the size of you.

Break Down Saturday

It started last night, but then I got lost drawing with colored pencils between texts and phone conversations. I wanted one more night with the Christmas lights and I am half tempted to leave the strand up that frames the window. The outdoor decorations will have to stay until a thaw as the candy canes wired to the porch are seriously encased in ice.

I almost hate to take it all down, but the skinny tree has been stripped of ornamentations and shoved back in its box. Just a few more pieces and it will be broke down and put all put away. Another holiday season committed to memory.

It was a good year, peaceful and pleasant, with many smiles. It was fun watching grandchildren play with new toys. Miss Z throwing her head back and neighing – who knew a stick horse required such lively animation? And Zavie-baby, just one year old, knew exactly how to pass a football in that “hut” thing shoving it back between his legs. Okay, so the babe knows more about football than grandma? There were also hugs and laughs and tender moments, visits with friends and family, trading fudge & sweets, shared meals and conversations.

I almost hate to break it all down and pack it away. It is like admitting that it is time to settle in for the long cold winter, the endless days awaiting the arrival of Spring. Groundhog’s Day comes next, along with the arrival of a new grandson, then Valentine’s. Drats! If the window lights were clear/white instead of multi-colored, I could leave them up and drop red & white hearts or something, add festivity to February.

On another note, I’ve been somewhat amused because I think that I am “supposed” to have hurt feelings about this Christmas. Like I am “supposed” to be upset and hurt and wonder why two of my sisters didn’t even bother to send me a Christmas card this year. They did post “Happy New Years to family and friends” on Facebook. (If they posted a simular Christmas greeting, I did not see it.)

Sister #4 is just busy… burns the candle at both ends and had her hands full with her own family. And a few years back, she told me to quit buying for her family. Yeah… they didn’t like it. Or rather, her grandkids must have loved that year’s theme of “Make a Joyful Noise” a little too much and drove all the adults insane with the box of giftbags full of candies and toot flutes, kazoos, and whistles that I mailed down that year.

As for sister #5, I think she has an issue with me or something because I commented “Happy New Years!” on her post – twice – only for my comment to later disappear so she must have deleted it twice, lol. Oh geez. Should I go for a third? Nah… don’t matter.

I don’t know what her problem is, so bump her games. I’m not playing.

That’s the thing… IF she knew me, she would know that I don’t play games. I do not play “guess what’s wrong” with people. This is like “act two” of the same play, but the thing is… “act one” went on too long.

She USED to be able to hurt me, but I have already moarned the loss of my sister. She shunned me for two long years and I still don’t know why. All I know is that one day, I had a kind and loving sister who suddenly wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She would not take my calls, ignored emails, no response, no reply to anything. It was like she threw up an inpenatrable wall of silence and it baffled the hell out of me. She was dead to me, and I moarned the loss.

The family did not help as they kept us separated. I heard round about that me & her were fighting so much that we could not be invited to the same family functions, like wth? It takes two to tangle and I was NOT fighting with her or anyone so that just made me more baffled.

It finally ended on my 50th birthday, but I still don’t know WHY she shunned me. Oh, she gave me a vague non-explaination, something about a personal problem prepared like a canned statement so I wouldn’t pry into her personal matters. Maybe she did have a personal problem, but why take it out on me?

I should thank her for shunning me because, in my effort to understand it, I did something that I only dreamed of doing before but never imagined that I could actually do it. Yes, in the months of confusion, I started writing and cranked out 68,000+ words documenting every messed up sister game played on each other since we were little kids. It was a long angry rant… started as a simple journal entry and kept going until I poured it all out. Then I shoved the stack of paper in a box and stuck it under my desk.

Writing helped me heal from the loss of my sister. If she had never shunned me, I would not have wrote it. And now, it is the basis of my first novel. Now that the hurt has healed and the anger is gone, I can re-write it, spin it off into fiction. Right now, I am on chapter 9 and with any luck, it will be done this year.

Still, the relationship with this sister has remained tentative and I suppose I could have done more to rebuild the bridge between us. But, part of me says that is her job – she burnt the bridge, so it is her job to rebuild it. There is also a part of me that says protect myself… if she could do it once, she could do it again. The fact that she had it in her to shun me for two long years, to turn her back to me without a reason – at least none that I know of – still kind of blows my mind.

So, this not even a card this year makes me think that she’s got another burr up her bum. Is this Act Two, shun me again?

I don’t know… we never fully recovered from Act One. At best, we became like distant relatives, the kind you rarely see, odd cousins that you may run into on the street or when attending funerals and weddings. The type you greet each other with hugs and a friendly hello, then talk about everything but really nothing at all.

We don’t know each other anymore and perhaps we never did because IF she knew me, she would have brought her bee with me to me. We can’t resolve anything without communication and odds are, the original bee in the first place was something stupid. Maybe it was something someone else said round robin and it got blamed on me? I don’t know.

It is sad… there are times when I really miss my sister and I wish things could be different but, things are the way they are. I don’t know what is going on with her these days anymore than I did when she was shunning me. If it is, as she said before, a “personal” issue, then I hope she can resolve it.

Bottom line, it is not my problem. All I can do is silently wish her well, smile and wave from my side of the river. Maybe she will make the effort to rebuild our relationship someday? That’s the problem with burning your bridges, the stench can linger for years.

And so, I shall but these thoughts in the old popcorn tin with the glass bulbs and other fragile things.

~ N.

Note: this post was sent by email via cell phone. Spellcheck is not an option so my apologies for any words that make you groan.