HAPPY NEW YEAR
All of you non-southern people will probably laugh, but this is what we count as a white Christmas.
Actually it was perfect. It was enough snow to stick, but the roads were pretty clear. Well, I wouldn’t know first-hand because I was home-bound with an awful case of bronchitis.
Instead of getting out, the kids came to us. Two/thirds of the sons came home as well as our only daughter-in-law. Unfortunately, we missed the family gathering at Hubby’s mom’s house but they sent food and gifts back.
Convinced I was no better and maybe getting worse, Hubby carted me back to the doctor for the third time in seven days this morning. A chest X-ray showed I didn’t have pneumonia (yeah). I did have a severe upper respiratory airway blockage and sudden onset asthma. A breathing treatment helped (double yeah) so we finally felt the diagnosis matched the symptoms and we had a solution. We purchased the equipment to do the breathing treatments at home when my chest is “tight”. Thus far I’ve had four treatments and they seem to last for about an hour–not great but better than nothing. The constant coughing has caused a severe headache and I’m taking so much medicine I’m in a fog. Hubby is having to keep up what I’ve taken and what I need to take–I barely know what day it is. When I told him I needed to blog, he said to take a sick day.
Until Wednesday, when I hope I’ll feel better and be more coherent,
Monday I blogged about my love of Christmas books—be it literature or ramblings—‘tis the season, you know. Today my topic is Christmas movies. For simplicity I’ll stick to TV movies because that’s where the theater movies seem to end up . . . eventually.
I barely remember the days before VHS. (Hey, all you older folks out there. Remember Beta?) I do remember with clarity the pain of programming the VCR contraptions. When the TiVo concept was introduced I loved how easy it was to record something I might want to watch later. Hubby and I both have become quite adept at zipping through commercials. (Sometimes I even get the remote.)
Actually very little television is watched in our house and pretty much the only things we watch “live” are outcome driven shows like Titan’s football or Dancing with the Stars. Other shows we TiVo and watch later are The Closer, Castle, Bones, The Good Wife, NCIS, Criminal Minds . . . see a pattern here? These are automatically recorded and we delete as soon as we watch them (we need the space)—I couldn’t even tell you when they air.
December is a month when Hubby and I (especially me) tend to watch more movies than normal, maybe because I record with more abandon. On the great TiVo menu I identify every movie released in the current year and hit the little red button. I troll for holiday movies on Lifetime, The Hallmark Channel and any other channel where I see a new movie advertised or one I don’t think we’ve seen, but usually have.
Our favorite movies to watch together are the sappy ones that make us cry, even if we’ve seen them before. We love the holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas. We look forward to seeing how they’re going to present the age-old classic A Christmas Carol during the current year. This year the angels are the protagonist’s teenage self and older self. Other years there’s been a cartoon version, one where the angel is a relative . . . or a drunk . . . or responsible, or irresponsible, or funny, or clumsy . . . comedies, dramas, tragedies . . . something for just about everyone.
Hubby and I made a conscious decision when we first got married. We decided not to have a television in our bedroom reserving that space only for sleep and for . . . well, for other things. We have two dens both equipped with flat screen TVs (with TiVo boxes) and fireplaces. One has a treadmill so I tend to stay away from that one. In one we have a chair for two with a large ottoman—purchased specifically as a snuggle chair. In the other we have a reclining loveseat. Both seating areas face the televisions with the fireplaces to the left.
We snuggle in front of the fire and watch one or two movies on rainy, cold December days that keep us inside or on nights when we’re staying in. Right now, we have five movies in the queue. Hubby’s off Thursday and Friday so we’re running errands on Thursday and reserving Friday (Christmas Eve) for watching movies all day. Can you think of a better way to spend a day?
One my favorite ways to indulge myself during the holidays has always been to read more than usual. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, I’d decorate my house, pull out my basket of Christmas books and start reading, usually snuggled under blankets in front of a toasty fire. In a typical year I’d complete at least a dozen books some years twice that many. My reading list would include couple of classics (O. Henry, Dickens), a few quick anthologies, some favorite authors I’d read before and, of course, brand new authors and books.
Last year I got a Kindle for Christmas. Hubby mistakenly thought it was back-lit and wouldn’t keep him awake like a lamp did. I did not download any Christmas books because a) I got it on Christmas morning and b) I couldn’t see the logic of downloading books when I had a stash waiting to be read.
2010 has flown by and I love my Kindle (much to my surprise). I found a handy night light for it, which Hubby said wasn’t as bad as the lamp, and read almost every night before going to sleep. But I absolutely, indubitably, without question refuse to buy a Kindle version of a book I already have and since I have paper and ink Christmas books I’ve not yet read, I’ve not downloaded any new holiday books to the Kindle or my IPad.
Oh, the IPad … Hubby was surprised at how much I used the Kindle so if a one carat ring is good a four carat ring is four times better, right? No matter that it’s heavy and ostentatious, and much more than you’ll ever need—man logic. For our October anniversary, he got me an IPad and preloaded some videos (including our wedding video—nice touch). He found a cover that looked like an old cracked leather journal (heavy) that zips—it’s beautiful—and said we could give the Kindle to a friend or family member who’d enjoy it. I said we most certainly would not and explained it fit in my purse easier and for quick appointments would be more convenient to carry. Whew! Give my Kindle away–who did he think he was???
Now that I’ve had the IPad almost two months, I love it too, just in a different way. My attraction started when I figured out I could get the books I’d already purchased from Kindle onto the IPad without paying for them again. I like checking e-mail and accessing the web with it too; it’s so much bigger than my phone and with aging eyes, every little bit helps. Best of all (from Hubby’s point of view) it’s backlit and I can read in bed with no lights on. I have to admit it is much easier to read with its backlighting than the Kindle and an external light, but both have my affection.
It’s the week of Christmas and I’ve not yet read a single Christmas book. I’m in the middle of a couple of non-holiday books on my IPad as well as a few short hardback books. (Do you read more than one book at a time?) Maybe I’ll finish all of them in time to get in one of the ones from last year and then download Debbie Macomber’s 2010 Christmas book. I won’t read any holiday books after January 1. Then it’s time for Valentine’s stories and I think I’ve read everything in my Valentine specific basket.
Wednesday I’m going to blog about Holiday TV movies and whether or not I need to go to treatment for my addiction to them.
Guest blogger: Loralee Anderson, character from MURDER ON MUSIC ROW
Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? Just a little over a week away and I still have almost all my shopping to do. That’s what I get for sleeping in on Black Friday instead of fighting all the lunatics out there. Nan and Kat were in the thick of it from midnight on but me, well I need my beauty sleep. My strategy is to let all the crazies get through with their shopping then I’ll do mine. Maybe I won’t have the same selection as the early birds but when I get through I’ll still have my sanity.
Now decorations, that’s another story. I can’t compete with Nan—she keeps some form of lights and holiday crap up year round. I think she decorates for every holiday there is and some that aren’t even holidays at all—like groundhog’s day, but her house is always lit up and easy to see, probably even from space.
Me, I put up a live tree in my living room ‘cause they smell so good. Of course, I’m picking needles outta my carpet ‘til March. I decorate it with white lights and colorful ornaments I’ve collected through the years. Every time I go somewhere new I get an ornament. Nan always gives me one too as a present, so I’ve got a pretty good collection. I get a live wreath for my front door too. I don’t put lights or nothing on it, just a big red bow.
I live in an apartment overlooking Hillsboro Road, a busy road anytime, but especially at Christmas. I keep plants and those room divider things on my balcony to block the sound when it’s warm enough to be outside but in the winter, I bring them in. For Christmas I use artificial lighted garland and wrap it ‘round the wrought iron banister and the prongs going down, I guess you’d call them legs, then I put bows on the corners. I hung great big ornaments out there one year, but the wind smashed them to bits.
I also put an artificial nine foot tree decorated with ribbon and balls out there. I anchor it real good on all four sides and put plenty of bags at the base. It’s pre-lit with colored lights and has a spotlight on it too. I thought about putting one of those inflatable Santas, but didn’t want to go overboard. As it is, it’s very tasteful, even Kat said so and she don’t give compliments lightly, especially to me.
So in the next seven days I’ve got to mail Christmas cards and buy presents and I’ll be done. It won’t be my turn to blog next Friday, so I’ll go ahead and tell you today. On behalf of myself and all the characters from MURDER ON MUSIC ROW. Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) and Happy New Year. Remember AAA will tow your car for free and take you home if you over indulge, whether you’re a member or not. Now that’s real class.
‘Til next year
Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays: the sights; the smells; the music. I don’t even mind that the commercialism of it starts before Halloween because I don’t pay attention until December anyway. Even though I find Christmas magical, like many of you, I also find it stressful. Want a peek at my “to do” list?
You know those cards I was working on Monday? I decided to hand address. I’m to the F’s and my best estimate is I have about 180 more to go. The Christmas letter is done and ready to drop off at Staples to be printed. Check.
West coast gifts are wrapped and mailed even though Hubby spent way too much on postage. I’d put everything in one big moving box and suggested he buy two smaller boxes at the post office and separate the color-coded gifts and mail to two separate households. (How difficult is that? Did I mention they were color coded?) Instead he sent everything in the big box to one place to arrive by Friday since he knew the families of my sister and my cousin were getting together on Saturday. He said his time was worth more than standing around at the post office in single digit temperatures (-3 wind chill) to save a few dollars. Actually, it would have been a savings of more than “a few dollars,” but this was one of those times when I asked my self if I’d rather be right or happy. I chose happy.
I still have gifts for seven other families to wrap and mail this week. (I missed one on Monday).
After those are out of the house I’ll wrap the twenty or so gifts that have to go to Mississippi to Hubby’s family. We normally do Christmas with them earlier than this so I typically have them behind me by now, but Hubby’s step-dad is very ill and I’m not sure when or where that family gathering will be. Maybe I can put them in a closet and wrap them the night before we get together or maybe I need to mail those too. Add that to the to do list.
Then there’s the immediate family who will be in Nashville, 13, by my most recent count…no make that 14. I just invited our ex-wife. We’ll have Christmas dinner at Hubby’s mom’s on Christmas day and I’d like to have those wrapped before the last minute.
Baking? Forget it. We have a wonderful bakery in town. Why should I bake? I will cook for the family dinner and for us the rest of the time. But I do that anyways, right? Not so much.
Decorate? Outside was done before Thanksgiving because the neighbors had their decorations up. I did the mantle and stairs last weekend while Hubby was out of town at a conference. I also added some more lights outside even though I’m not supposed to climb on ladders when he’s out of town.
For the first time in my entire life, I’ve decided not to put up a tree in our home. (My sister has 17.) I create a beautiful tree with lots and lots of sentimental ornaments. It takes hours to decorate and hours to take it down and pack the ornaments away for next year. It’s less than two weeks until Christmas and the work/enjoyment ratio just isn’t worth it, especially when we aren’t entertaining this year and one or both of us has something to do away from home almost every night. We managed to get a tree up when I’d hurt my foot and couldn’t walk. We even figured out a way to do it after Hubby’s surgery last year, but this year it’s just not happening. It makes me sad, but it’s a grown-up decision and I’m sticking to it. Can you tell I’m still vacillating?
In the movies families seem to put their trees up on Christmas Eve. Excuse me, but by Christmas Eve I want to have my feet up, a hot cider in my hand, and enjoy the efforts of my labors.
So, last night when Greg got home from a meeting (around 10) we were coordinating our calendars for next few days and he wanted to add a couple of things to the schedule. I told him I was overwhelmed with all I had to do and he had the audacity to say, “That’s not so much.” I broke it down task by task adding in my daily writing objectives. We were in bed and I was still listing things until he agreed I couldn’t possibly get it all done in such a limited time frame. On this one I’d rather be right than happy and I know he gets more agreeable when he’s ready to go to sleep. He asked what he could do to lessen my load. These are things I’m doing for our family after all.
Address cards? He said could take some to the office and do them there. I don’t think so—he writes like a doctor. I know. I know. He is a doctor. That’s no excuse.
Wrap gifts? When I stopped laughing I said he could mail them. Of course I’ll have them sorted in in the appropriate size box before I send them to the post office. I’ve seen him struggle with wrapping paper and tape before. Not his forte’.
This morning I told him something I’d thought of he could do. Not a large project in the scheme of things and not one that has to be done immediately. You know what he said? He said he didn’t have time. I don’t usually throw a hissy fit (quit laughing) but that put me over the edge. Last night he was willing to agree to anything to get out of the “That’s not so much,” gaffe. This morning his blunder was forgotten. We will be discussing this tonight and his list has grown!
I recognize all of this is away from the spiritual part of the season. Thank goodness I don’t have a church program thrown into all of this. (We do have the ballet with friends, four or five parties, and I have a tap performance tomorrow—and I only know one of the dances!!!)
What are your stresses of the holiday season? Have you ever considered not having a Christmas tree? Do you still send Christmas cards? What are your tips for making the holidays more relaxed? Misery loves company – Comment, please!
Today is the perfect day to write, or do anything indoors. It’s thirteen degrees outside and the wind chill is minus three. The high is not predicted to get out of the teens and the low will be in the single digits. We have a blanket of snow (and ice) on the ground and the roar of the wind makes me wonder how sturdy our trees are. The fireplace is blazing—our gas bill will be soaring—and I still need my blankie to stay warm. Come on master weather gods, this is Tennessee, for goodness sakes.
A tidbit you non-southerners may not be privy to is people in the south don’t know how to handle snow and ice. Granted today is excessively cold and driving conditions are such that if one can stay home it would probably be best, but most of the time, if we have even a chance of snow they start closing schools. It seemed silly until someone explained it was because busses couldn’t get to rural areas where the roads hadn’t been cleared.
We don’t have a lot or snow equipment. Why should we? Some years we don’t see a single snow flake. Then there are years like this one where it’s already snowed twice and it’s not even Christmas. They do a good job of clearing the three major interstates and the two loops that bypass Nashville as well as the major streets but smaller roads will wait days if they get any attention at all. Though you may be extremely comfortable driving in the snow, your car equipped with good tires and a special gear for extra traction, it doesn’t matter; it’s the other people you have to worry about.
Five or six years ago we had a surprise store hit as everyone was driving to work. It was a significant storm—we ended up with six or seven inches of snow as I recall—so many companies sent their employees home which caused a major traffic gridlock. I lived about twenty minutes from my office. After about an hour of going nowhere, I turned around and went back to the office and got some work done. I headed back out a couple of hours later thinking surely it would’ve cleared out by then. Nope. People were leaving their cars beside the road, in the middle of the road, and walking. Where they were going, I don’t know. It took me six hours to get four miles from my office to my husband’s office where I parked the car. (I could have walked it faster.) By the time Hubby was through for the day, we breezed home on a snow-cleared road and no traffic.
Fortunately I’m not driving today. I’ve been working on my holiday letter instead of my blog—oops. I know some people complain about these letters and to them I say, “Don’t read it. Throw it away.” I don’t write one every year—every two, maybe three years at most. I, on the other hand, love knowing what my friends have been up to through the year or if I already know, I like to see the spin they’ll put on it. I usually hand-write the addresses and since we send over 200 that can take a while. I may try printing labels this year; we’ll see. Normally I print the letters myself but this year I am seriously considering letting Staples or Office Max or the Fed Ex Store print and fold them.
I’m through with my shopping (I think). West coast packages are in the mail as of this morning thanks to Hubby. I have six more families to wrap and get in the mail this week. Then there’s the extended family here and the family in Mississippi to wrap . . . and our immediate family. I’d hire someone to come wrap for me, but it’s one of my favorite things to do at Christmas. It’s much more fun than baking and you’re burning calories, not consuming them.
If they’d add one more verse to the song White Christmas this would be my suggestion:
I wanted leisure but I’m getting panic with every Christmas card I write. I think I’ll stop now and gaze out the window and enjoy everything is white.
There is a reason I’m not a songwriter. See you Wednesday.
Guest blogger: Nan Macomb, a character from MURDER ON MUSIC ROW
I’m having to prop my eyes open with toothpicks this morning so I hope this makes sense. The Tennessee Titans played the Colts last night and one of my clients gave me two tickets. I know the Titans haven’t done much this year, but it’s so much fun to go to their games . . . usually.
We lost big on Sunday to Jacksonville and then had to turn around and play again on Thursday night so no one expected it to be pretty. Really, I don’t know what I did expect, but I didn’t expect it to be so dog-gone cold. I don’t know why not. It’s been below freezing almost every night for close to three weeks now and down in the teens some.
When we got to the stadium, Loralee and I looked like we were there to camp out for the night. We each had a wool blanket as well as our sleeved snuggies. I’d layered my clothes with long underwear (silk), flannel-lined jeans, and a turtle-neck top with a cable sweater over it. Then I’d squeezed into my below-the-knee down coat and waddled to the stadium. Even with a wool hat, scarf, and fur lined gloves I was still shivering.
Luckily we sat by some redneck hunter guys and before the end of the first quarter, Loralee had talked them out of their hand warmers, feet warmers AND had them buying us beer. The Titans were seven points down at this point – I can’t imagine what she could have gotten if we’d been winning.
The Titans used to be the Houston Oilers but because Houston wouldn’t build them a new stadium, old Bud Adams decided to take his team and move somewhere else. The politicians in Tennessee did some smooth talking and we got us a professional football team. They played the first season in Memphis. The second season they played here in Nashville using Vanderbilt’s stadium while their stadium was under construction. They played as the Tennessee Oilers those first two seasons before being renamed the Tennessee Titans.
The stadium is beautiful and sits on the Cumberland River. It can be seen from almost any vantage point in the city. The Titans share the stadium with Tennessee State University and the Music City Bowl is also played there. It’s definitely been good for Nashville.
At half-time we were down 21-zip and I was still cold. I wanted to go home, but Lor hadn’t had her fill of flirting so we stayed. Of course, now I’m glad we did because things got exciting in the second half. Oh, we still lost—barely. We sure gave them a run for the money. The final score was 28-30 and our play-off hopes are pretty much down the drain. But when you have a come-from-behind, maybe we can win half like our second half last night there’s so much energy in the stadium it’s much more fun to be there, not watching it on TV. For once, I’m glad my best friend is a flirt. I almost, but not quite, forgot about being cold. All the jumping up and down and yelling probably warmed us up too. I’m surprised I can talk today.
It’s been a disappointing season, to say the least. We’ve experienced a lot of adversity, including our offensive coach’s diagnosis with an aggressive cancer. Vince Young’s been acting like a spoiled brat instead of the millionaire professional he could be. We acquired Randy Moss, which I think is a good thing, and other players’ antics have overshadowed his activities. So far he appears to be trying hard–to fit in, be a team player and not be controversial. Now if they’ll just get him the ball . . .
My biggest concern is the future of Jeff Fisher. He’s by far the classiest and best coach in the NFL and if old Bud Adams chooses his immature, high-strung prima donna quarterback over Jeff then there’s no doubt Mr. Adams is senile. Frankly, I can’t imagine the Titans without Jeff.
Well, I’m sure I’ve gone over my word count. Hey, not too bad for having toothpicks in my eyes, huh? Stay warm wherever you happen to be. It’s supposed to remain cold here through the first of the week. I’m hear 7 (yes, single digit) for Monday. I sure am glad I work from home.
Hoping you’ve got someone to snuggle.