This Christmas Morning

This Christmas morning is going to be an anomaly for me….one I told myself I would never repeat.

I will be alone.

The beautiful thing about working in the healthcare industry is that there are no holidays.  Sure, you get days off, but weekends, holidays, points of time most people hold sacred – they have no meaning to us.  We have lives to save and people to treat.  My current employer is not open on Christmas this year.  My husband, however, has a gig.  In fact, this is a normal week for him.  I kept toying with the idea to pick up hours at my former employer – they would be open Christmas Day – but I never picked up the phone to inquire.  So much has changed there, I’d have to relearn my job.  Despite the stress of that place, I feel terrible that I’m not taking someone’s spot, who could spend that time with family and friends – I remember working double shifts to help coworkers.  My family is thousands of miles away, as is The General’s.

This happened once before, when I was still in Illinois.  I kinda sorta freaked out about it.  Granted, I can do anything by myself – fly half way across the world, go out to dinner, attend a show/party/gathering.  But for some reason, Christmas is always hard.  To offset the lonely Christmas I had (single and working), I went all out and bought a tree with ornaments and transformed my apartment into a Christmas wonderland.  I found it quite therapeutic.  Christmas Eve, my college roommate showed up with her husband, gifts, and a hot ‘n ready pizza.  It was one of the best Christmas memories I have.  They drove a half hour out of their way to make sure I had a merry Christmas.  That will always stay with me.

This year, however, all is not lost.  The General and I are getting together with Pat and Chris (old family friends) for dinner, gifts, and games on Christmas Evening.  It’s just that the morning is going to be rough for me.  Different, perhaps is a better word.  I really have no desire to sit alone in this big empty house with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.  I have decided to go to the beach, and if I get up early enough, I can watch the sunrise over the ocean.  I’ve found there’s very few things in this world that a walk on the beach doesn’t make better/put in perspective.

It’s time to make some new Christmas traditions.

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May all your days be merry and bright….

Merry CHRISTmas from the beach!  This is the picture I used for our Christmas card this year (I went green/cheaper postage with postcards from this awesome spot).  It’s the pier at Carolina Beach as dawn is breaking in July 2011 – taken with my first generation smart phone.

This Christmas, despite the 16 hour work day, was awesome.  I caught my 5th wind for the day, cracked open a bottle of Glühwein, and opened presents with my General.  Every year, The General and I get each other the same gift unknowingly.  EVERY YEAR.  This year was no exception:  we got each other experiences and gifts from England.  I got tickets to Roger Waters doing The Wall (I am super excited) and Mars candy bars, which I can’t find on this side of the pond.  Now I have a dozen that have to last me a long time!  I got him an English pub glass (complete with etched crown) and an all expense paid trip to downtown Wilmington which includes a room for the night.  We always talk about going downtown, but we never do because we have to drive home and be functioning adults the next day.  My parents went all out on us, too. It was almost too much.  We were also joined by Bob, Phil, Judy, and Betty – the cast of White Christmas.  It’s tradition.  Ah, it was amazing.

The angels left them and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.”  As the shepherds returned to their flock, they glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard. Everything happened the way the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:15,20)

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Xmas

The holidays this year have been usually busy for me, hence the long break from zee blog.  Today it’s gearing up again with 2 mini holiday parties.

I’ve got 99% of my Xmas shopping done, but I seem to have tons of loose ends to fix.  And when I finish one, another one pops up.  I’m slowly losing what’s left of my mind.  I need to get my family’s presents in a box and shipped ASAP, but I still find myself procrastinating on what needs to be done.

And to make things worse, I just found this awesome gift idea recipe that I want to try.  But out of several “craft projects” I started this Christmas season, only 1 has come to fruition.  And I hope my sister isn’t disappointed with the outcome (she has no Xmas decor in her house and she’s quite in vogue, so I made her an artsy ornament tree.)  I have a feeling I’m going to try and find vanilla beans somewhere in town and stop at Old Time Pottery tomorrow to get some cute jars.  I just don’t know when to stop!  Loose ends?  I’ve got split ends!

I got into the Christmas spirit today by putting all the Christmas CDs I have into the CD changer and cranking the volume on the receiver.  It contains my CDs (Christmas classics like Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mormon Tabernacle Choir), The General’s CDs from long ago (mostly funny Christmas songs, some of which are pretty offensive….I’m going to have to rip the CD for the good stuff….it’s not appropriate on so many levels), and of course, the Rolling Stones hits album Through the Past, Darkly.  I know….not very Christmasy.  But it snuck into the Christmas CDs last year and so now it’s tradition.  And while following O Holy Night by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with The Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together does raise a few eyebrows, we do things a little differently around the barracks.  Just not too off beat: the least offensive of the offensive CD is “Holy ____ It’s Christmas.”  I’ll give you a hint:  the blank is not smokes, mackerel, or cow.  But there’s one about not farting on Santa’s lap and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour ones are pretty funny.

I really need to fix that before tomorrow.  I’m having some friends come over to make cut out cookies complete with margaritas and mimosas.  I know – it’s about as holiday friendly as the Rolling Stones.

Our neighborhood Christmas party commenced tonight – I finally got to meet some people who live around me after a year and a half – I met a new friend tonight (and husband) who lives within eyeshot of my house – I think we could totally do some couple stuff together.  The General didn’t make it cuz of work.

Speaking of work, we won’t be able to celebrate our Xmas until the Tuesday after because of our job.  Even though it’s a few dates late, I’m so looking forward to it.  I just wish I could go to the Christmas Eve service at church.

Nonetheless, I’m ready to jump into the excitement of 2012.

Justin time for Xmas

While I had every intention of getting a head start on my Xmas shopping, it just didn’t happen.

I texted Martha (nearly 13), my niece, to ask what she wanted for Xmas, as well as her little sister, Mary (nearly 10).  I wasn’t prepared for the response.

Mary was predictable.  Barbies and soccer stuff.

Martha?  Anything Justin Bieber.

<insert shudder here>

As I stated before, I have nothing against the kid.  I just don’t dig his music.  It’s just not my thing.  Nonetheless, I came home and googled him.  And then clicked on the “shopping” link.  If I can find a deal at Ulta, I am going to get her the perfume set and maybe a CD of his acoustic album.  Because I, an avid Pink Floyd/Led Zeppelin fan, would never say on my blog to the effect that I went to the Ticketmaster website to see where his concerts were and how much tickets were because he’s not touring anywhere near the east coast.

<insert “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin here>

At her age, I never got excited over pop groups.  I liked the Beatles.

On the bright side, I get to go toy shopping for Mary and Lazarus (the little guy).

Oh boy, this next holiday extravaganza is going to be entertaining.

O Christmas Tree

It became apparent this year that my husband, who spent his formative years pushing deer in the Pennsylvanian wilderness, had never had a up close and personal encounter with a Douglas Fir.

The General was kind enough to put up our Xmas tree this year, complete with lights *that worked* so I could decorate it.  I noticed I could see the middle support beam quite clearly in it, unlike from years past.  It seemed…..anemic.  As I got a closer look, I found most of the branches weren’t fully extended out from storage.  Hmph.  Confounded, I asked him about it and he said he was in a rush to set up the tree.  Ah, that explains it.  Classic.

With it’s branches fully extended and full of ornaments, it’s perfect.  I even put up the ceramic Christmas tree form the 1970’s that my Oma displayed every year.  It’s officially Christmastime here in the barracks.

Why so early?  We’re hosting my side of the family for Thanksgiving.  Mom, Dad, my little sister, and her boyfriend of 5 years (I refer to him as my brother-in-law, he’s part of the family) are all coming from Illinois to stay with us.  I am super excited!   This is my 1st ever real holiday as host to family…..I’m officially an adult now.  And as someone who’s job is a 24/7/365, the fact that I have days off around a holiday are such a blessing.  This almost never happens.

Luckily for everyone’s sake (fire department, family, State Farm, etc.), The General is the executive chef for this event, although I find myself planning the menu and doing most of the cleaning — but it’s all good.  I’ve been slacking and he’s working straight through until they get here.  My 2 favorite things, grasshopper pie and Oma’s German stuffing, are going to be made by my mom who is a master at both recipes.  I tried both of them in years past and they always turn out badly.  Cohesiveness in the final products elude me.  The grasshopper pie didn’t set (too much creme de mint, perhaps?) and the stuffing crumbled in to bits when it should have been cake-like. And to top it off, Kris and Pat are joining us too for a total of 8.  It’s going to be CRAZY at that dinner table – especially since I can only find chairs enough for 7 and we have 8 showing up!

….and I break my fast.   Haven’t heard much from God on it.   2012 is going to be an interesting year, for sure!