Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello, dear friends,
Traditionally, this time seems to be the period of "coming off" the Christmas shopping craze, drawing year-end conclusions and drawing out goals for the New Year.
For me, this season has been a non-traditional one. For starters, I decided not to put up a tree this year. With Joe working every day  - except Christmas - it seems that, no sooner we get it set up and decorated, it's going to be time to take it down.
Then - presents. Every year I tell myself that I am not going to go crazy shopping for gifts, and yet every time at Christmas I get swept up and carried off into the crazy shopping spree. I don't enjoy the shopping. I feel rushed and over-spent. The crowds of shoppers in every store always make me anxious... As a result, when Christmas morning comes, I feel stressed, spent and tired. I just want it to be over.
This year - non-traditionally - I exercised self-control. Each member of my family got one gift and one gift card. I set limits and I stuck to them. After all, if Christmas is the season of love and giving, then let's finally find out what love and giving is all about - without the heavy gift boxes and the heaps of trashed up wrapping paper to boot!
I am satisfied to conclude that my exercise paid off in spades. For, although we did not have a flashy Christmas - and the kids even mentioned that "it was not a real Christmas this year" - this season was the sanest I have felt in years. Not excited, not exalted, - but calmer than usual, and, above all, sane. Sanity is the best gift I got from the Powers That Be this Christmas (Yule, Solstice) season... and I appreciate it more than it shows on the outside.

"Merry Christmas"
Design by Nancy Turner
With sanity by my side (like a loyal friend and sidekick) I noticed that I do, in fact, have a social life! Letters, Christmas cards - and even one "care envelope" - found their way to my house from friends all over the world.. We have been corresponding through the year(s) - and they have not forgotten me. I was - and still am - overwhelmed with attention. Thank you.... This is the second gift of the season that I am grateful more than I can ever express - connection, not being forgot by my friends...

Here, I have to apologize for my behavior. I myself am lousy at writing Christmas cards - or any other cards, for that matter. All I can say is - thank you, my friends! You made my holiday season complete.

New Year was celebrated in the same spirit as Christmas - no excess. I did not worry about the house being clean, or "special" dishes to cook. There is a belief I was raised with that says the way you meet the New Year is the way you are going to spend it. So, there has to be good food in the house - something everyone likes. Every family member has to have money in their pocket (purse, wallet) - at least one dollar so they don't go into the New Year broke. The trash has to be taken out (well, that was me more than the tradition here), and there has to be good mood, good spirit among family and friends that gather.

All the essentials were taken care of - well, almost all of them... Who would have thought that it's the last and most important ingredient - the good mood and spirit - was the most difficult... Just six hours before midnight, Joe told me that his sister had two heart attacks in one day. She was in the hospital by the time he found out, in stable condition, but the news, of course, shook him up....
It seems like every year, right around Christmas, something bad happened in our family. Year after year, I keep hearing Joe's story about his father dying on Christmas morning - so in part Christmas seemed like a day of mourning to me, rather than celebration. I was respectful. I understood - or at least I thought I did. My own family, the one I came from, lives thousands of miles away, so if anything should happen, I am lucky to find out about it days or sometimes weeks later, by email. Grief is no foreigner to me, either. But I try not to dwell on it. At times I can't help it, and tears come without warning, and I wipe them off, and try to go on with what I am doing. I know that grief has to run its course, and at the end of that course is acceptance, which is necessary for all of us still living to keep living. If I fell down on the floor heartbroken and crying every time I thought of my grandmother who passed away some eight years ago, I would not be able to do anything else but weep. But I don't want to weep. I want to live. I want to feel calm, comfortable, and - what gives? - even happy some day.  I don't get enough of these emotions throughout the year as it is. So, when something bad happened on New Years this time, I... did not want to hear about it. After hearing the facts - heart attack, hospital, stable condition, daughter is with her, and nothing need be done - I wanted to go on with meeting my New Year. Was that selfish of me? Of course it was. But good feelings have been in short supply this past year, and I wanted  - nay, determined to! - meet the New Year as close to happy as possible.

After dinner, a friend stopped by. We drank Martinelli's (the girls and friend), beer (me) and champagne (Joe and me)... We played chess - or,rather, joked around and made faces while moving the pieces around. We laughed and we talked - about everything and about nothing, with no particular topic in mind. Rita, my oldest daughter, made me laugh. She does have sharp sense of humor and a talent for telling stories. She wants to be an actress, but thinks that she's too shy to do it "for reals". I hope she can achieve her dream some day not too long from now. Vera told stories about school, horrible substitutes and detention horrors. She can be very descriptive and insightful. I can see a young writer developing.

Today, thinking about last night's "quiet party" of ours, I feel (once again) tears welling in my eyes. But they are happy tears, brought on by happy memories. And that is the best way to meet the New Year.. so that there will be more to remember in the years to come.

Happy New Year!


  1. Sad to here about Joe's sister. Hope she is better.

    Great to hear about your more happy, less-stressful holiday time.

    Happy New Year:-)

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Dan! Thank you for your comment.


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