Posted in Andshelaughs, Christmas, Entertaining, Family, Friendship, Happy New Year, Meaning of Christmas, Middle Age, Midlife, New Feminism, New Year's Resolutions, Perspective, Uncategorized

New Year – Same Old You

New Year

Now that we’re officially on the other side of the ‘Christmas Holidays’ and the tail end of what was a particularly challenging 2018 at my house, I’m changing some things. Mostly my attitude….I hope.

I’m not doing away with the traditional cookies or opening gifts on Christmas morning. And I’m certainly not doing away with staying awake until everyone else is asleep so that I can lay out the overflowing stockings. Stockings are my very favourite part of Christmas morning.

What I think I’ll do away with is the expectation that when December 25 rolls around something will be magnificent. The reality is that the best part of Christmas is the lead up.

You know what I mean darlings; the dinners out, the gossip over coffee, the visits with people whom you should be spending way more time with because they make you feel special. By the 25th I figure that we’re all ready for the big meal, a good long nap, and a laugh. We mostly are ready for any expectation that people have for us to just fuck off and go take a nap somewhere with a big glass of rummy nog.

About mid-November every year I get the Christmas itchies. I put up the tree, decorate the house, and start setting up a wrapping station in the spare room. I like to be prepared.

What I don’t like to be is disappointed. As long as my kiddo is here on the 24th and 25th, it’s all good. The rest is gravy really, and I should, as a younger, hipper version of myself has often told me, just “calm my tits”.

What I’ve learned recently is that  I’ve put a lot of effort in to the holidays for people who don’t appreciate it.  I get drained and resentful. I’ve decided that as much as I’m willing to arrange get-togethers, I also expect to be hosted as well. I’ve decided that I’m making one Christmas dinner whenever the hell I want to. Since I’m the only one who makes it, decorates it and cleans it up,  I get to decide when it is, based on whatever priority I have. If someone in the flock doesn’t like it, I’m more than happy to show up to a decorated house,  a cooked meal, and leave afterward with a belly full and no offer to help clean up.

This year all I really needed was to have some of the kiddos favourite treats ready in small doses when he popped in to refuel for more socializing with his pals. I didn’t need to bake up a storm for anyone unless I really felt like spending the day in the kitchen. That leaves no resentment, only joy.

As the years pass, and what the Christmas season looks like changes for everyone.  I like to think that I can spend more time with friends, opening the door to those kindred spirits who like to talk about life, art, and experience ,deep into the night around a table of fresh food and oodles of wine.

My holiday plans and expectations are different, but as the new year rolls in, I realize I’m the same old me. Happiest surrounded by the friends I call my family, having creative vision and goals, and still mumming my kiddo even though he’s all grown up.

 

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Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Canadian Writers, Christmas, Christmas Letters, Family, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Healthy Living, Humor, Joyful Living, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Christmas, Midlife, Simple Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Writers

T’was The Night Before Christmas

…and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for mamma. Mamma’s are always stirring. Mamma’s are Christmas.

My Mumster always told me that it is the mum who makes Christmas happen, and she’s right. Regardless of the twaddle that our families (biological or of choice) throw at us about not fussing, not having any special baking or meal requests, when you fail to make every single Christmas treat that they like throughout the month of December, you inevitably get the disappointed face asking, “Where are the butterscotch squares,”?  And you feel as if you’ve failed. Coloured marshmallows and butter are my secret weapon…and sprinkles…maybe also rum and a little bit of ameretto.

This year has been different around our house. So much so, that waking up today doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve day is my favourite day of the year. I love it. It always begins with a mom-son breakfast, carries on with cookie baking, movie watching, lots of relaxation, decadent food, supper heated from a box (because I’m too busy prepping for Christmas dinner and the throngs of people I feed), and finishes off with a trip to church, with the grand finale being the singing of Silent Night by candlelight.

But not this year. Oh no. This year involves a trip to the airport to pick up my kiddo (who’s flight is now officially delayed) and giving a bed bath to my partner who is unable to move. I can’t lie, if this flight is cancelled or late, I’m going to be searching pretty hard for goodwill-unto men. I’m also kinda over giving bed baths too.

Christmas Eve

In lieu of church, I think I’m going to get loose with eggnog and rum, or perhaps I’ll keep it simple and drag  the Santa gifts out after a few glasses of wine (a few glasses = a bottle). Perhaps this year old St. Nick will be swigging a gin and tonic and enjoying some Branston pickle on cheese…hey, whatever gets you me through the night. I may even get in those hours of editing I’m so badly craving.

I have not been out to the Christmas sock party, the Christmas ugly sweater party, my work Christmas party, my usual friendly visits, or romantic Christmas rendezvous. I will not be going to the annual boxing day open house in Stratford that has on more than one occasion found me  dancing until dawn on the 27th and charming some poor soul into falling in love with me. No. This year is different.

This year, it’s a small, quiet Christmas. As such, I have splurged on the cats. their stockings will be bulging with cheap toys, treats and stale catnip from a bag. Fa-la-la-la-la…..la-la-la-laaaaa!

Yesterday I made rum balls and took the temperature on the stock of supplies for our tiny Christmas meal.  By tiny I mean this is the fewest amount of people I have ever cooked for at Christmas time. Although our mother-son breakfast will be delayed, and I’m not stressing over space to cook for a pile of people, this Christmas is going to be wonderful. Because I’ve made up my mind that it shall be so.

But next year, oh, next year! My social media feed will be rife with the jolly stress of an over-worked, over-tired, over-done-it mamma who can’t wait for the last piece of turkey to be gobbled down so she can get back to a quiet life of not dodging Christmas decorations while trying to bake everything under the sun before heading out to see the lights. I will be revelling in the exhaustion, excitement and over-doing-itness of the season.

But for now, here’s to a silent night, a quiet night, tucked in by the fire with my most favourite creatures on earth.  May you all be so lucky as to have your loved ones close.

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Christmas, Christmas Letters, Christmas Lists, Christmas Toronto Things to Do, Fearless Living, Friends, Friendship, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Christmas, Meaning of Life, Midlife, Mindful Living, Opinion, Perspective, Simple Living, Social Anxiety, Social Commentary, Society, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

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.

 

Posted in Advice for Writers, Art of LIving, Buddhist Writers, Canadian Writers, Celebrations, Creative Writing, Friends, Friendship, Friendships, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Holidays, Joyful Living, Living, Mindful Living, Seasons, Simple Living, Sprititual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Writers

The Longest Night: How To

First of all, let go of all expectations.

The theme is the Longest Night: Finding Light in the Darkness, and is always, always, always held on the eve of winter solstice (December 21).

1)Send out invitations however you like – I use social media and the occasional email.

Given the theme, invite friends whom you feel you can be spiritually naked with.  The more the merrier, or not. It’s up to you. Personally I love having an eclectic group of friends who are intelligent and kind.

2)Each person is encouraged to bring a piece of writing, poetry, artwork, music or visual art to share with the group.  Have them bring copies to give out if they can.

3) Pot-freaking-luck – this not only takes the pressure off of the host, but it offers everyone a chance to bring a special dish that honours the spirit of the evening. Sharing food is an intimate act of friendship.

4)Offer a place to sleep should anyone be enjoying a few beverages or, if you’re in Canada, cannabis.

5)Offer all of the seating you can; couches, chairs, cushions, stools. Basically, form a cozy circle where people can relax.

6) Draw numbers to see who shares first, second and so forth.

7)Begin the evening with a toast, or reading appropriate to the theme. Light a candle as a symbol of the season of mystery and hope.  The joy of the evening is to share, discuss and share some more, taking everything at a leisurely pace.

8)Enjoy one another’s company.

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Christmas, Christmas Letters, Holidays, Meaning of Christmas, Mental Health, Middle Age, Midlife, Opinion, Parenting, Perspective, Uncategorized

How Are Your Christmas Lights?

giphy

In the darkness, the Christmas tree lights are a true symbol of advent. Mystery in the darkness. A sense of wonder.

Advent is my favourite season of the year, even though November is my least favourite month. Layers of grey permeate every hour, and the dampness makes everything, even the ethereal heavy. Besides being a Scorpio, November sucks.

Alas my friends,  then there are the Christmas lights! They’re the first thing that I attend to in the morning, getting down on my knees to find the plug and make the connection. As a young mother, I wanted my son to have the same sense of wonder that I did upon waking and seeing the tree illuminated in the dark, chill morning.  As the mother of a young adult, I want to continue that sense of wonder, the feeling that something wonderful can come of the darkness, that stillness can be a time of self-discovery and that there is joy in silent reflection.  As a partner and caregiver, I hope that my darling wakes up to the lights and feels the very same things.

Realistically, I live in a house with people whom I’m not sure have such a deep, symbolic appreciation of this season as I do.  Whatever.

‘Whatever’ has become a word that pops  up more and more in my silent thoughts. It’s the 80’s baby version of WTF.

The reality is that Christmas has changed for me. I’ve gone from a child waiting for Santa, to being Santa.  I’ve gone from a young woman excited about the romance of the season to an older woman who has officially let all hope of Christmas romance go. I do however find joy helping in any way that I can to fan the flames of that excitement in the life of my friends and family who are in the midst of that, ‘Hallmark Romance’ period of their lives.

This morning I woke up to an email from my Mumster about the energy of the fuss and muss of Christmas, and how this year, her sister will be hiring a cater rather than doing the cooking herself. In her wisdom, Mumster  has deduced that age 55 is the age at which you pretty much get tired of the foo-fur-ah (foo-fur-ah def. bullshit) of the Christmas season.  I’ll let you know if I agree when I reach the spritely age of  55.

Inevitably life changes as you know darlings. Our energy levels ebb and flow, as do our priorities. Health remains our  biggest asset, and it becomes more valuable the older we get.

Although I’m not the marathon baker, wrapper and Christmas-party-throwing woman I was ten years ago, I like to hope that I can keep my own sense of wonder alive through the season.  Sometimes it’s just wondering where the wine went, and how my ass got this robust.

Humor and wonder is what will keep me young. It’s what will keep my eyes open to the little twinkle of light in life that brings happy surprises, belly laughter and passion. This is the stuff of a youthful spirit. Let humor and wonder be your own Christmas miracles, regardless of your age or circumstance.

 

Posted in Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Guy Stuff, Healthy Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Men's Issues, Relationship Advice, Relationships, Uncategorized, women, Women's Issues, Working Women

The Christmas Grocery Shopping Lists; A Guide for Men

man in storeLet’s face it; it’s always one person who bears the brunt of domestic planning. In my home, it’s me. I have lists for groceries, lists for toiletries, lists for separate stores. It takes time, and effort, so trust me when I say that if it’s on a list, there’s a reason.

At this time of year, the last thing I need is someone arbitrarily deciding what we don’t need. What I need is a housekeeper and two months off and exactly what’s on the damn list.

Unfailingly my better half asks me for a grocery list whenever he’s popping into the store. It’s very thoughtful and I appreciate it more than he knows. There is one problem however, quite often he arbitrarily decides that one or two items just simply are not necessary.

This is the core of the secret to executing the list and I’m about to share it with all of you lovely gentlemen out there. The items on the list are dependent on one another. They are a team you see, each playing an important role in a recipe.

rotten zucchiniWhat is a zucchini without eggplant when making ratatouille? It is simply a lonely zucchini, waiting to weep it’s sticky brown death juice into the bottom of the veggie crisper because it’s calling has not been fulfilled.  When that happens, it becomes part of another list; clean out the fridge and likely, get-your-arse-back-to-the-store-and-get-what-we-needed-in-the-first-place.

It’s not just about handing over a checklist of items to be purchased and brought into the house. The food that we share creates an atmosphere at home, whether it’s a cozy night in for the family, or an evening of hosting guests. It takes time and energy to dream up what might be pleasing and enjoyed. When you decide that the list isn’t important, you’re essentially diminishing the significance of the homemaker. It’s a way of telling them  that their work is insignificant.

A long time ago, a spiritual mentor spoke these wise words; “Our partners do really do just want to make us happy.”

If this is the case, buy what’s on the list.

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Faith, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, ideas, Inspiration, Joyful Living, Living, Mental Health, Mindful Living, Personal Development, Psychology, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Religious Studies, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Spiritual Living, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Writing Inspiration

The Season of Mystery & Light

street lampI’m early, I know.

Advent is not officially upon us, but the shitty greyness of November sure is.

We are smack in the middle of the time of year when everything is bare, grey, and tired.

Not quite officially Advent, the season of mystery, of waiting, of germinating in the darkness so that we may blossom in the light is definitely upon us.

What better way to embrace it all than to try some new stuff?

This year, it’s all new to me; my home, my relationship status, and most significantly, my role as a mother.  Whatever you call your celebration of light in the darkness that you celebrate, the reality is November is often a month of feeling less than sparkly.

As always, I’m embracing it. All of it.  Well, at least I’m trying to. Trying ‘new stuff’ may help ease the doldrums, but is it the solution? I’m not so sure about that.

Being able to be still in the darkness takes incredible strength of mind and spirit. Allowing yourself to feel it deeply without running from the discomfort may be the secret to rising into the light refreshed and enriched. It may also send you to the psych-ward for a few weeks. Chacun son gout.

I try to remember the significance of the tiny lights twinkling in the cold and the darkness. They are the symbols of hope when we are not sure of our place and where we belong, and sometimes that’s all we have.