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Modern Christmas: For Empaths & Introverts

What happened to our society? Especially at Christmas time?

Who else remembers a time when November and December were full of social engagements and excuses to dress up? There once was a time that I looked forward to the annual company party, where everyone was expected to dress up, socialize, and participate in some good clean fun…until most everyone drank too much and had to be chauffeured home.

And what the hell is with not playing that wonderful song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? Give. Me. A. Break.

Maybe it’s the new cultural trend of insta-worthy-over-sized sweaters and hands wrapped around steaming mugs of cocoa. Hell, it’s a lot easier to pull off than heels, strapless dresses, and a clearly defined ‘date’. I totally get that everyone has either become an empath or an introvert; a modern way of saying; I’m sensitive, so don’t hold me to your cultural standard of politeness and respectful interaction….the penultimate of victim culture.

Just a tip – half of the fun was watching everyone interact. It was fun to play with our persona’s of  sequined flirts with no other intention than to share a few laughs; to entertain and to be entertained by virtue of our very own selves.

I miss what I so fondly refer to as Gatsby-Socializing. When you were expected to flirt with everyone, the art of telling a joke was appreciated, and keeping up with current events wasn’t quite enough. People actually had discussions intelligent enough to persuade, entertain and engage.

There was no distraction appropriate at the table. I mean really, cell phones at the table are akin to someone in the 80’s taking out a handwritten letter, smoothing it out on their lap, lowering their reading specs, and totally disengaging with the people in front of them. Talk about a slap in the face of civilized behavior.

For a while I thought that the slow fade of high-end socializing was directly related to my age. I was wrong. It’s the result of fear. Everyone’s afraid that they’re going to be fingered for being inappropriate, being blamed for the irresponsible behavior of another adult, and painted with the pariah brush of our I’m-not-responsible-for-my-own-behavior culture.

So get out your cocktail dresses and brush off your dyed satin shoes. Break out your costume jewelry, shake up a mean cocktail. Invite a wild mix of personalities over and watch the magic of real-live human interaction unfold all in the name of Christmas cheer. I’m dying for some superficial and super-fun festivities.

 

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November 30th – Time to Commit to Christmas Carousing

women-coffeeThere’s nothing I admire more than a woman who doesn’t whine.

Perhaps a well matched wine to a hearty meal or a really comfy pair of walking shoes, but strong women always have a special place in my heart.

Whenever I get discouraged, down on myself, or frustrated, I think about how few women I know have overcome the adversity I’ve faced and kept it all together.

And then I automatically think of my mumster. The woman who took me under her wing when I was a rowdy thirty-something year old.  In my adult life, I never had a mum.  It kinda felt weird taking on a new one seeing as I was an adult already. But it was a good weird. It took me a while to understand that depth of kindness, even though I knew what it meant to be a mother.

Last night I came home from a weekend away, working on a relationship that only middle-age could inspire. Mumster had been here overseeing the household and my giant kiddo. The first thing that I noticed when I walked through the door was that the house was clean. Clean! My kiddo was still alive, and the kitties were happy. Prior to going away I had been working long hours, staying in the city, and trying to make everyone else happy. Mumster to the rescue.

Come to think of of it, it has been mumster to the rescue in a lot of cases; old broken down cars, old broken down hearts, and old broken down patterns of coping.

As busy as life gets, I think of her every day, I just don’t take the time I should to let her know. So, at Christmas time, I look forward to our visit, our time together, and giving her a thoughtful gift just for her.

I also like to take time to see the other fabulous women in my life; my bestie the Lovely Mrs. L, my crazy aunties, Cindy, Darleen, Virginia, Carrie, Karen….the list is long and beautiful, and yes, Carlo and Colin, rest assured, you are both considered one of the girls. You too Dennis.

Even though cynics criticize Christmas revelers as hypocrites for getting together only in December, I have to make a statement on the other side of the line. I really don’t care what the excuse is, I’m grateful for it and I will use it to connect with the people I love for as long as I’m able. Amen and hallelujah to that darlings, now pass the nogger and throw on your santa suit ’cause mamma loves to celebrate!

 

 

 

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So She Drove, So She Drove, So She Drove

wildandsingleOh, the weather outside was mild

And she was feelin’ kinda wild

So she drove, so she drove, so she drove…

It’s been unseasonably mild here, with nary a tiny pile of white, fluffy, hideous snow or ice to be found. Although it makes for romantic scenery to snuggle up by the fire with, while the snow falls outside, snow sucks.

Let me clarify; Driving in the snow sucks, walking in the snow sucks, and shoveling the snow sucks.

Yesterday, as I bee-bopped along the top of the GTA, being tailgated by Rudolph, I was pretty happy. No, wait, it wasn’t Rudolph, it was a mini-van duded up with a fuzzy red nose and antlers. Get off my ass Rudolph, you mini-van driving boxing-day hording freak, it’s Christmas!

Besides the load of work I do leading up to the holiday for our annual dinner, and get-togethers, the December 26- January 1 days are a major part of my holiday celebrations.

Off I trotted to an annual out-of-town open house and traditional too-much-Christmas-cheer overnighter. It took me an hour to get there. Record time, but during that blissfully peaceful hour on the highway I could feel the stress and fatigue get up and start gathering their holiday luggage. Whew. It was delightful and an absolute gift to be a guest in someone else’s home.

In the morning, I woke with a slight twinge of regret, and a bit of optimism. After all, I was off next to lunch at the home of dear friends. After popping into my favourite shops, The Gentle Rain,  for some local honey and Rheo Thompson Candies for the best chocolate dipped cherries in the entire universe, I was back on the road.

I was once again tailgated by  another mini-van driving Rudolph wanna be. I’m sure that the ‘Rudolph’ mini-van  is the preferred vehicle of all of the Cousin Eddie’s in our lives.

Off to lunch with friends who understood  my red-wine Christmas themed over-indulgence from the night before. They once again opened their home to me, and set out a fine and delicious selection, “Please, have some more salmon, it’s good for a hangover,” the host offered.  Artichokes, olives, lox, handmade quiche and a little, white, hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-me.

These visits are what Christmas is about; connecting with the wonderful people in your life whom you see far too little of, but think about daily, and miss like crazy.  The company of kindred spirits is sometimes hard to find in a life of work and single-sports-momming, but during these days I find it and savor the moments.

Today, it’s off to lunch at a small airport just north of the city with another wonderful friend. I’m so happy to be able to travel on clear roads and do all of my catching up with so many of the people in my life I feel blessed to count as friends.

Life is good when we slow down and enjoy the friendships that buoy us up, and make life worth living. For the time to do that, I am truly grateful.

 

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Do You?

Christmas lights backgroundLate at night, long after I should have gone to bed and should have finished my to-do list for the day, I often turn off all of the lights but those on the Christmas tree,  and spend quiet time on my own.

These moments are too infrequent, and wrought with what if’s. However, if I’m still, and if I let go of everything that I’m clinging to; my fears, my worries, my lists of wants and needs, I can still touch that place I thought I left behind when I was a little girl.

Growing up in a small town, I did not know the indulgence of city parades and rows of shop windows. We had a small grocery store, with the original French doors and hard-wood floors. Produce and meat were weighed, measured and priced on the shelves, and were all passed along a simple groove-worn counter top without a conveyor. String hung above the cash register to wrap and tie parcels, and your bags were still packed in brown-paper bags and carried to your car for you.

I grew up in a land where time had, for a few years at least, been stopped.

Each Christmas the grocer’s wife would decorate the store window with the same dollhouse filled with miniature furniture and smiling dolls. It was the picture of a perfect family. Mom rolled out dough on the kitchen table while the kids and dog looked on. Each detail was perfect and so very tiny.

As a little girl, I stood, mesmerized by the scene before me, and the creation of my own imagination.  How wonderfully perfect it must have been to live in that house of smiling dolls, with the warm fireplace and kind faces.

Beyond the store window, I knew there would be paper-wrapped stands holding clear plastic bags of French creams, snow balls, ribbon candy, and my very favourite; chicken bones, the hard cinnamon candy with a chocolate centre.  Beyond that, during the holiday season only, there were bins of loose nuts and those wonderful tangerines!

While my mother and grandmother would shop, I spent a lot of time looking at the doll house in the window, imagining and dreaming, and hoping.

Those precious years of endless, hopeful dreaming  slip away without us realizing. As a teen, I worked in that store every summer, and eventually, one-by-one, the businesses closed, including the grocery store and the tradition of the doll house.

When I hear about ‘believing in the magic of Christmas’, I don’t so much relate to the little boy born in a manger. That may horrify some of you, but it’s true.

The magic of Christmas for me has always been the effort we make to stop time for just a few hours; to slow down our ever-busier lives that slip by faster and faster as we age. The magic of Christmas is now, more than ever, the miracle of making time for one another and really taking time to share, listen and care.

I do still believe in that.

Each Christmas my hope is that whether at my home, or when I’m visiting with friends,  that the joy, hope and magic I believed was happening in that miniature doll-house that decorated our old-fashioned grocery store window, does still exist among us today. Even if it’s only at Christmas time when we pause, reflect, and give thanks to the people who make our hearts feel as happy as I imagined those little dolls to be.

I still believe in the magic of Christmas. Do you?

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Santa Baby, I Feel Pretty…

toesinbathThe wild and wonderful Mae West once said, “Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided“.

God bless Mae West!

‘Tis the season to cultivate your curves ladies.

‘Tis the season of Christmas parites, and getting cozy by the fire with the love of your life while the winter wind whips up a wonderful wonderland.

Sometimes, just like preparing for a much anticipated holiday, preparing to go out somewhere special is just as satisfying as the event itself.

Tomorrow night marks the first of four, yes, count’em, four Christmas parties that I will be attending during the next two weeks.

I’ve fluffed up my party dress, have my open-toed, black satin shoes ready by the door, and a new tube of lipstick waiting to be unleashed.

There’s nothing better than feeling pretty. Besides being intelligent, devilishly charming and totally independent of course, my wee little butter toffee puddings.

Being a strong, independent woman is the only way to go, and when you combine it with indulging in your sensuality, well, that, my darlings, is nirvana.

Instead of rushing through the holidays, take time for yourself.  If you indulge yourself in some of the pleasures of the flesh, I guarantee that your holiday season will be merry, bright, and full of possibility.

Always make time for your pedicure (mine was just finished in a lovely shade of In My Santa Suit), and for selecting just the right jewelry to accentuate your outfit, even if your outfit is jeans and a sweater.

I’ve been dutifully massaging new Peppermint Twist hand cream into my cuticles and on my hands all week.  Thanks to some really great lip balm , my lips are getting ready for what I hope to be a season of mistletoe-snog related workouts with a tall dark and handsome hottie..

Tomorrow, after work, a long, hot shower will wash away the shell of the hustle and bustle of every-day-life, and I will delight in preparing for my evening out.

Whether it’s for a night on the town like tomorrow, or a night in with your best friend and lover, take time to pamper the body that has carried you through the past year.

You may not be gracing the cover of Vogue in the near future, but your body deserves a little worshipping and loving this holiday.

Love yourself first, and the rest of the world will fall in love with you too.

 

 

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Catching a Hottie Under the Mistletoe

norma shearer mistletoe
norma shearer mistletoe (Photo credit: carbonated)

Last night, while out and about flitting around like the great-white-northern social butterfly that I am, I had cause to think about solutions for single men this season.

My wonderful friends who find themselves single this year are mostly in their 40’s, happily and sometimes ‘meh‘ily employed, and wishing to spend their quality time with a wonderful woman.

“It’s hard to meet women”, I hear, “It’s too much effort,”, they say.

Hmph. That’s what women say too.

So I guess this post is for men and women who, like a casual outdoorsman, has taken their fishing pole out to the local river on a lazy weekend,  think that if they snag something worth keeping, they’ll make the effort to land it and take it home for dinner.

I hate to break it to you folks, you still have to make an effort to leave the house and bait your pole ready. Ah-hem….

My mumster always says to get yourself together and put on your best face, because you never know who’ll you’ll meet out for your coffee and paper, or a wander through the shops.

For single folks who may be looking for  someone of the opposite sex to snuggle up with during the holidays and beyond, I suggest following my mumster’s advice.

I also suggest a little dash of fabulousness sprinkled on a big plate of coming our of your shell. Here’s the list…

1) Invited out for the evening? Simply say, ‘Yes.’

2)Getting ready for an afternoon, evening, or even breakfast get-together? Stoke your holiday spirit, and allow yourself to get excited about it. Yah, that’s right, pull your single-sorry-socks up and be brave enough to lose your cool. There is nothing more of a turn off than someone who mistakes being aloof for being mysterious. We’re all too old to bother peeling away that many layers sweetie. Give it a rest.

3) Do whatever you need to do to boost your confidence. For ladies it can be as simple as a new shade of lipstick, or knowing a quick joke or two. For the gentlemen out there, spritz on some new cologne, or stuff a sock in your pants if necessary.

4) Practice gratitude. No one wants to hear about your problems. We all have them. Be joyful, be curious, be open to meeting someone new and having some fun. Dance, sing, tell a story – something, anything.

5) Don’t let chivalry die. For  strong, independent women, that means allowing a man to get the door for you, even if you have to stop walking. For guys, that means kicking it up a notch and remembering that romance is as classic as diamonds and making out on a shag rug by the fire. Well….maybe not in the same league as shag, but you get the picture.

6) Try to abolish expectation. Too young? Too old? Too….not what you thought you’d fall for? Nonsense…give it a chance.

7) Accept the awkwardness, and don’t let one maroon-move give you an excuse to stop trying.

8) Expect others to be only as perfect as you are. In other words, reassess your standards, and give the other person a break.

9) Accept the help of friends. Accept their invitations to dinners with the friend they think might be of interest, accept their invitation to take over your on-line dating fiasco, accept their critique of your too-high-expectations.

10) Set goals and make a plan. In a rut staying in every night? Make it a priority to get out to one of your favourite neighbourhood haunts at least three times a week.  Emote genuine interest in others, and an openness to meet someone new.

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Benefits of Overeating

      “Gray hairs are signs of wisdom if you hold your tongue, speak and they are but hairs, as in the young.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore ~
“Gray hairs are signs of wisdom if you hold your tongue, speak and they are but hairs, as in the young.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore ~

I bet you thought you’d never read an article sincere in its praise of overeating during the holidays. I’m not talking about binge eating, or eating food that’s not good for you.

What I”m talking about here, is using the abundance of the season to enhance your social allure, and mete out kindness via gastronomical consideration and the resulting silence.

It sounds almost too good to be true right? Well, it’s not.

This holiday season I have attempted this practice with success. It was a kind of meditative exercise, with little talking and thorough enjoyment of my meal.

When you’re surrounded by friends and having a great time, that’s the time to exercise restraint and consider your caloric intake judiciously.

As much as I love the get-togethers during the holidays, the obligatory show stoppers don’t really do much for my Christmas spirit, or for my tolerance of idiocy.

You see, if it weren’t for these events, I would be blissfully baking cookies in my kitchen, or quietly working away in my office, or perhaps enjoying a nice, long, snuggly lie in with my cuddly-wuddly-sex-pot-of-a-younger-man or perhaps a new-older-man-crush.

Alas. one must, at times attend unpleasant events, put on a good face and show up.

This is where the benefits of overeating can be reaped, and the motivation to burn calories sowed.  You see, I figure, if your mouth is busy chewing, full, or sipping a cold glass of ice water, it is less likely to speak the god’s honest truth.

Speaking the truth is usually not so refreshing in the company of mere acquaintances and tends to get you kicked under the table, slapped in the chops, or fired.

As we all know, Christmas is certainly not the time to be anything but painfully and irritatingly politically correct. I know that you wonderful ladies skirt the lack of authenticity demanded by said political correctness.

You  offer the world a colourful burst of candid truth-telling, unashamed honesty and the gritty authenticity that makes you so gosh-darn attractive.

But not at events that you feel obligated to attend.

In these situations,  I urge you  my socially desirable readers, enjoy every course and pass nothing up. Enjoy the cheese and dessert courses. Order a nice espresso and sit back, quietly meditating on the abundance set before you.

Nod, smile politely, and keep chewing.

At the end of it all, utter an enthusiastic compliment about the meal, wish everyone a merry Christmas, Kwanza, or whatever the celebration might be called at that particular table,  and then smartly and without fanfare, get the hell out of there.

I highly recommend the extra calories be burned smooching under the mistletoe, making passionate love by the fireplace/christmas tree/window so the neighbours can have a peek.

Wishing you a tasty, politically correct holiday celebration, followed by unabashed revelry and a dash of hedonism.