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Holiday Amnesia

Of course the holidays were more fun when I was a child and could just sit back and enjoy them with none of the work. I have gotten a little less enjoyment each year in scheduling when we can possibly get a tree and how we will find some extra Jacksons to pay for it and ultimately slogging out the same decorations to adorn it.

I know I sound terrible. And the tree is my FAVORITE PART OF CHRISTMAS!

But I have reached a new low this year…

This year, I can’t even remember it.

That’s right. I can’t remember what happened.

It was a blur of buying gifts, wrapping gifts, buying ingredients for cookies, going to holiday events which seemed to be happening not only every weekend, but then every night of the week. I remember the holiday party at work, and how much I was looking forward to it. That night, we saw a listing for a dog online who would turn out to be part of the litter we would ultimately adopt our new pup from.

Then, there is a blur.

Puppy arrives

I know a dog started living with us between Christmas and New Year’s. We went to my sister-in-law’s New Year’s Eve party. We took the dog. I think. My husband and I had birthdays too, but I only remember coming out of a sickness fog to return to work.

Did this really happen?

I am finding items around the house that I don’t remember. They all turn out to be my son’s Christmas presents he received. I know when we got the puppy there was a mad rush to remove items from her path that she may destroy or eat. But having them out of site also put them out of my mind.

Maybe I am just out of my mind.

Has anyone else ever experienced this, or is it just me?

Maybe the 24 hour stomach flu that went through our house had a coma effect? Except, well, I am the only one experiencing this problem.

Oh well. I have always said that Christmas should be like the Olympics—we should take a break in between them. Even Christmas every other year would be more palpable.

Maybe the Jennifer’s Holiday Amnesia Episode of 2017 is Santa’s way of granting that wish. He managed to grant all my other wishes this year.

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
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Exercising a Different Kind of Creativity

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On Saturday, I went with my family to a National Train Day event at the Amtrak Station in Toledo. Who knew that there was a National Train Day? There definitely exists no website for it.

I was afraid it would just be like one table giving away Operation Lifesaver stickers and keychains with, like, homeless guys peeing in the corner or something. But we got to ride on a railroad work car, tour an Amtrak train, see several locomotives up close, and saw two and a half rooms of train-related booths. Some were of places we have been, like the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, and others we have on our to-do list, like the Fostoria Iron Triangle. We also found some destinations we might add to our list, such as the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express from last year’s visit to The Steam Railroading Institute

 

After several hours, we agreed we had all had fun, but we were tired and hungry. We headed to Chick-fil-A for a rest and some lunch. We would eat, I would make my husband stop at Five Below for a hat I believed I had to have, and then we would head home. I would probably be lazy the rest of the day, if possible.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn't take a better pic.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn’t take a better pic.

Our intentions were almost thwarted when a carnival was being held nearby and parking was heinous. But we persevered, and upon entering the restaurant, it was busy but not over-crowded. My husband spotted his sister there with her daughter. Soon my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law showed up to too. We ditched the boys and through a crazy, unpredictable set of circumstances, I ended up awake past my bedtime an hour and a half from home on a girl’s night out with a completed painting inspired by my family. I had felt like the universe had given me an opportunity and I had no choice but to take it.

I used to list art as my favorite subject in school. Now I am sort of a non-practicing artist, like how someone could be a non-practicing Catholic. Those skills don’t disappear, they just lay dormant and get a lil’ rusty. But it felt good to use the colors and shapes part of my brain rather than the letters and grammar part I have been running marathons with for the past few years. I kept telling my sister-in-law that it felt like we were in art class back in school. Because, well, we indeed did go to school together and here is the proof, a picture taken in art class almost 22 years ago.

ART-OG JS1

My S-I-L: The OG JS

So, here is my finished painting. I am kinda proud of it. Sure, it isn’t up to professional standards, but it is nice enough to hang on my wall. I stole the saying from Hallmark. And I’m not sure if you can tell, but the hearts have glitter on them. Because, well, when you carve into this tree, there is glitter inside. It is a magic tree.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

Yes, even my painting has to have a story attached. But then, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Sorry to disappoint, but this post is only 500…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments

To be truthful, I actually have several favorite ornaments I make sure get hung on the Christmas tree every year. But these are probably the oldest.

Antique icicle ornaments

Antique icicle ornaments

My gramma had these ornaments. My mom had these ornaments for our tree the whole time I was growing up. And now my son watches me hang them on our tree every year. (But he doesn’t get to touch them, because I don’t trust him any further than I can throw him.)

Does it get anymore Christmas than this?

Does it get anymore Christmas than this?

For more on my childhood Christmases, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/12/12/christmas-the-im-not-stalking-you-way-part-1/

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

Christmas: The I’m Not Stalking You Way! Part 1

When I was a kid, in my house at Christmas, we celebrated all things commercial about Christmas, and none of the religious ones. We sang Christmas carols with “Jesus” and “Lord” in them; that was about it. And I liked it that way. That is still the primary focus in our household. Don’t get me wrong, we are also about giving to the Salvation Army bell ringers and peace on Earth and all that. But we have snowmen, Santas, and nutcrackers filling our house, and no nativity in sight.

Giant Nutcracker

Giant Nutcracker

This means the Christmas tree has always been the center of our Christmas celebration. After all, it is what you put the gifts under!

When I was very young, I thought that Christmas trees were a special variety of pine tree that grew to be 5 to 6ft tall within 330 days or so.  I mean, it makes sense.  That is about how often consumers need to purchase them. It seemed totally unrealistic to me that you would chop down a tree that has taken years to grow, just to put in someone’s living room for a month.  I still think maybe my original idea was correct.  Or, if it is not, we should totally work on developing that.

Just as with anything else, my mom was very fussy about getting a Christmas tree. As you may suspect from my hypothesizing above, my mom and I always got a live tree. Because she had to carry it herself, she had strict height restrictions. Namely, that the tree could not be taller than her. The base of the tree had to be small enough to fit into our small metal tree stand. The trunk had to be straight so that the tree would not lean or be off balance. Because we hauled it in the trunk of our car, and later in a Chevrolet Chevette 2-door hatchback, she always put down a sheet first, so that (most of) the needles could be easily shaken out.

Me, when I was almost 4 years old.  Almost the same age that my son is now.

Me, when I was almost 4 years old. Almost the same age that my son is now.

We always bought trees at the closest tree lot to us, which was at the American Legion. My gramma always came with us, which added a layer of tension because my mom and my gramma always bickered. (In 20 years, my son will be saying the same thing about his mom and grandmother. Oy.) I think my gramma was supposed to help hold open doors to the house, and hold the tree steady while my mom laid on the floor and screwed it into the stand. But I think the real reason my mom drug my gramma along was because in order to pay for the tree at the Legion, someone had to go into the bar to bring someone out. My mom always made my gramma do that. When I got big enough to help, my mom would just take the tree home. Then she would clip the price tag off the top of the tree and mail it with a check back to the Legion.

One year, my mom was out of work. She kept saying I wasn’t going to get much for Christmas. But she said that every year, and every year my Christmas was filled with gifts and candy. This particular year, she said we didn’t have money to get a Christmas tree. Which I didn’t believe her at first. She was always saying stuff like that, but our quality of living never changed much. (That was actually courtesy of Mr. Visa and Mr. Mastercard, who she was using to buy us groceries with.) She was usually a person who bought a tree early (for best selection), and then threw it in our shed until a week before Christmas (to ensure freshness). So as Christmas creeped closer, I started to believe her. And if I had known then what I know now about scrimping and saving, I would have told her to cut down on the steak (albeit cheap steak) and laundry soap (she used A LOT), we totally could have found the $20 they cost at that time. But I was just a kid.

Antique icicle ornaments older than I am.  Wait...Does that make me an antique too?

Antique icicle ornaments older than I am. Wait…Does that make me an antique too?

One day we were taking a walk around the trailer court in which we lived in December. It must have been a warm day, otherwise why would we have been out? Which then makes sense that it was windy. As we were walking, leftover autumn leaves danced at our feet on the cracked concrete street. Among them, was a hint of green that she kicked with the toe of her shoe. It turned out to be a $20 bill. Who knows how far that $20 had blown to land at our feet. No owner in sight.

So, that year, that was how we got our Christmas tree. You would think that would have moved my mom in some way spiritually. It did not seem to. When I think of that experience, it strengthens my belief in the Law of Attraction. We wanted a Christmas tree so badly, that the means to get one was drawn into our lives.

My husband and I continue the tradition of a live tree every year (Scotch pine if my favorite).

My next post will be about the existence of Santa Claus. You can find it here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/12/17/christmas-the-im-not-stalking-you-way-part-2/

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