Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Have Yourself a Hopeful Little Christmas

This holiday season is proving to be a tough one. Last week, my husband's company laid off 75 percent of the people who work there. Many of his friends--most of whom have mortgages and families--are now out of work only two weeks before Christmas. We are cutting short a planned visit to family in Pennsylvania because he is worried about job security.

Christmas shopping has been a challenge since I managed to save only half of what I had in previous years in my bank's Christmas Club account. We have very few neighbors this year and a lot of empty houses around us.

With all of the uncertainty, I have been feeling a little down this holiday season. But today, I have decided I will look for the positives. So, here is a list of all of the things I am grateful for this Christmas:

1. Watching the Christmas light twinkle while the snow falls around them
2. Baking cookies for family and friends
3. Online shopping
4. A lit Christmas tree in a dark room.
5. Getting tears in my eyes as I watch my kids perform in their holiday recitals.
6. My small house that I can comfortably afford.
7. Remembering my Great Aunt Helen as I make nutrolls
8. Having a job when so many have lost theirs
9. Mistletoe, and the right person under it
10. Watching holiday movies after everyone else has gone to bed
11. Thinking of my grandmother as I set out her silver
12. Cats who know instinctively when you need them on your lap
13. A church aglow in candles and Christmas lights
14. Radio stations that play only holiday music
15. My family gathered around our advent wreath
16. Getting Christmas cards and letters from faraway friends
17. Cold, clear nights when you can see tons of stars
18. Reading aloud the gospel passage of the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve
19. Stockings for each family member hung in front of the fireplace
20. A prayer answered

The economy seems like a giant Grinch sneaking down off the mountain and robbing all of us hapless Whos of our holiday happiness. Don't let it. Take time this holiday season to remember all the things in your life for which you are grateful.

And I dare you to say "hapless Whos of our holiday happiness" three times, fast.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deck the Halls and All That Nonsense

The holiday season is upon us, which means Christmas carols on the radio, Salvation Army bell-ringers outside department stores, and a stress accumulation powerful enough to launch the space shuttle into orbit.

Before you embark on a mad dash to Toys R Us and beat a fellow shopper senseless in a battle over the last Tickle Me Elmo, Brats doll other "hot toy" of the season, please take this survey to determine your stress level.

1. When I think of the holidays, I want to:
A. Cut down a live tree and sing Christmas Carols around a blazing fire
B. Count down the days until January
C. Strangle someone with a bough of holly

2. The line “a partridge in a pear tree” reminds me of
A. A song about the joy of giving during the holiday season
B. Some Christmas song that doesn’t make sense
C. Stuffed poultry served with a side of glazed fruit

3. Christmas shopping means
A. Enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holiday season
B. Going on the internet and avoiding all of those holiday lunatics
C. Resisting the urge to “go postal” in a local mall

4. You see a picture of oranges decorated with cloves in a magazine and think
A. They would make a lovely Christmas centerpiece
B. Some people have way too much time on their hands during the holidays
C. They would be something nice and squishy to lob at Christmas carolers when they ring your doorbell

Add up your score as follows: Each A - 3 points, each B - 2 points, and each C - 1 point each. Score yourself as follows:

10 to12 points - Martha Stewart loves you
7 to 9 points - Who spit in your eggnog?
4 to 6 points - Jacob Marley and Associates would like to schedule a conference with you around midnight, Mr. Scrooge

Now print out a copy of this survey, tear it into timy pieces, set it on fire and dance around it. Trust me, it will do wonders for your stress level.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Male Brain--How Does It Work, and Does It Even Exist?

In my 40-plus years on this earth, I'd like to think I have learned a thing or two along the way. Yesterday, I had a revelation.

Men are idiots.

We may have many great men in our lives. We may be married to a great guy. We may love men to death. This, however, does not disguise the fact that they act really, really stupid sometimes.

My husband is one of these really nice men. He is a good provider and an overall nice guy. However, he is a little selfish about leisure time. He makes sure he gets in a couple of hunting trips and three to five golf weekends every year. I, on the other hand, have not had a vacation or a weekend away with friends in over three years. Understandably, I find this inequality in leisure time a bit unfair.

He recently told me I had no reason to be upset. He claims that the two pilates classes I attend every week and the church choir practice I go to every Thursday evening are equivalent to his golf outings and hunting trips.

Now, how practicing hymns and sweating like a pig for 45 minutes are equivalent to drinking beer, playing cards, lounging around in clubhouses and chasing a little ball around on the grass, I have not yet figured out. But in the male mind, time out of the house is time off regardless of what you are doing. I suppose we should add the weekly trips to the grocery store into that leisure time total.

I know for a fact that no amount of reasoning is going to convince him otherwise. Once he gets an idea in his head, it sticks like gum to the bottom of your shoe. Yesterday, for example, he came home and wanted to know when I was going to get a full-time job. Now, the plan was for me to work part-time until both of our children are in high school. Since my son is only in the fifth grade, this is not an option I am considering for another three years.

I do, however, keep an eye on the classifieds and on-line job posting sites just in case something spectacular comes along. The economy being what it is, the only things offered lately are third shift caretaker jobs in nursing homes and something called "customer relations in our polution control department." I'm not sure I even want to speculate what that job entails.

That explanation was not good enough. He accused me of changing our game plan(?) and said that he is tired of working all these hours. He said I will just have to get another job and "adjust my expectations" as far as the housework goes. Translation: You go to work full time too, and when we come home I'll lounge around the house like I do now every evening and watch you work some more! Sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

I did tell him that if he is so desperate for me to get a better paying job, there are a few street corners in Detroit that I could probably work and make a bundle. He did not say anything. I am not sure if that is good or bad.

And so, the complex workings of the male mind continue to puzzle and amaze us. Perhaps amuse us would be a better word. If I were not married to this guy, I would find these musings and explanations downright funny. Since I am married to him, I am just plain annoyed.

See you on the street corner!