Christmas Week, 12/23/2022

On this day, I want to wish my lifelong friend Kris Leavitt, Happy Birthday, as well as FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!

Yesterday was the most frigid day since I can’t remember when. I want to say about 1983, maybe. We stayed in Wednesday night because of the icing that was happening, and were going to stay in yesterday. But we needed to deliver some things to the MVF warehouse. The Babe wanted to have lunch and go to the store. My to do list would have to wait.

I thought the store would be crowded. It wasn’t! A Christmas Miracle! The store staff was all very nice. That would be a tough job, along with anything retail this time of year. Those people all deserve a bonus, you know?

As I’ve said before, it is tough to be on this side of Christmas; a grown family and the littlest grandkids live far away, so it’s tougher to get into the spirit. The header photo is of our two great nieces, children of nephew & niece Alex and Megan. Their little girls, Kenna and Knox, are adorable. The header photo is the family Christmas card this year. While I was out at the dentist a couple days ago, I was remembering having kids that small at Christmas. It occurred to me those are the years Christmas is magical and fun. Having some memories? Me, too.

Come to think of it, I’m also remembering some other memories.

The year everyone had terrible colds, were cranky, had red faces and raw lips from being chapped in the cold temps; 1978; I was 8 months pregnant and miserable; the years we couldn’t afford anything, so I made a lot of gifts; the year we hosted dinner for 28 people. I made Swiss Steak and Baked Potatoes and it was perfect. I also cleaned up, did Santa, and all the Christmas Eve duties, while the kids’ dad went to bed. He was too tired to help. He was angry when the kids woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning. That’s what Christmas Day is about! No, I don’t miss the collateral memories that go with the little kids and an uncooperative husband.

Knowing Alex and Megan as I do, they will do things together, and be more excited than their little ones to wake up early. They will be patient and loving all day, too. The girls’ Aunt Ona will certainly do what an aunt does on Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Brad will enjoy every minute. Enjoy, Shuck Family! Merry Christmas. We love you all, and hope your memories are wonderful.

Of course, since we did the store and lunch yesterday, it was too late to start the tree. So, today is the tree. Photos tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute. When my kids were little, they always knew we had to wait until Grandma Tomasek’s birthday to put the tree up. December 7. It got a little earlier, December 1. Finally, when I divorced, and we had my house, we’d do it the day after Thanksgiving, when the boys would decorate the outside of the house. I miss those Christmases, too.

Take each of these moments during the Christmas present, and enjoy it as much as possible. The good and the bad. I look forward to the meal we’re hosting, and to seeing the family who are available. We are blessed, and grateful.

Have a great day today, stay warm, finish your shopping, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

And a Good Time Was Had By All

Our friend Lora had a happy celebration with a goofy bunch of friends, all of us laughing about all sorts of things and having fun. Lora, being the hostess with the mostest, decided we play some trivia games. I do believe it’s more fun when the moderator has had a couple glasses of wine. We teased her about being “judgy” while reading the questions and giving hints for the numeric answers. We were able to win some chocolates, diabetic variety for those who needed to limit their sugar intake. The peanut gallery happened to ask each and every winner it they were diabetic or not before handing the winnings over. What a bunch of goofballs we are. I love when we have fun, nothing somber or serious.

The last couple years have seen too much loss and sadness. This morning, Rachael Ray was in the Ukraine, bringing aid to the people. She taught cooking classes to a Catholic school class, complete with dessert. She demonstrated cooking from prepping still through dessert and packing medic kits for the thousands of troops who will receive them. Essentials like tourniquets, bandages, and surgical tape. Ray has delivered several thousand kits in previous visits and plans to bring more.

I was given some hope by watching Rachael Ray today; the Ukranian people have hope and light in their eyes that can only come from knowing they are free. Yes, the surroundings look like old photos from WWII, but they are, indeed, current photos of the landscape in the war zone. To be reminded about the importance of something we take for granted gives me a feeling tinged with guilt. We need to remember this, and express gratitude to God for as long as we still have the freedoms we do. Let’s make a conscious effort to be more mindful of life; blessings and hardships, excesses and shortfalls, and freedoms and dictatorships.

I’ve had quite a bit of seasonal sadness again this year; my life is very blessed, yet this holiday is hard. It started when I was 12, and our grandpa died on Christmas of a massive heart attack. Christmas was always hard, and has been exceptionally hard some years.

When Grandpa died, it was so hard to know how to act. Our other grandpa died of a heart attack the year before. We didn’t have a grandpa after that, and that was sad. Life changed for Grandma, she learned to drive, got a job, sold her house, moved to another one, and we didn’t get to have fun excursions with her any more. She was always sad. We didn’t know what to do.

Years passed and our extended family gathered again but on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve. After I married and had young kids, Christmas was a lot of fun and very meaningful. My in-laws gathered on Christmas Eve, and my family on Christmas Day. After all, Dad worked nights, and sometimes had to go to work from the Christmas dinner table for the next shift. Work always came first in our home. Mom always made a big to do for Christmas, given the limited budget there was. Mom would make a lot of clothes for me, and that helped.

After my divorce, Christmas eve was always hard; the kids went with their dad for his family gathering, and I was alone. If was ok, I don’t remember how I spent the time until the kids returned home. I was always glad when they came home. One of the best Christmas eve’s I’ve ever had was spent with my son Frankie. He didn’t want to go with his dad, and while the younger kids were gone, we ate at McDonalds and talked about life, the situation with his dad, and a lot of things. I’ll never forget that Christmas eve. After all the sorrow experienced when I was 12, there wasn’t any that particular Christmas eve. Miles apart in emotion. Amazing how life does that.

All those years later, in 1997, the Babe asked me to marry him on – you guessed it – Christmas Eve. What a surprise! So many emotions over the same day, different years.

So yes, I have emotions all over the place during these holidays. The year dad died, Christmas was terrible. So was New Year’s (his 65th birthday). Thoughts of people experiencing major life changes after deaths, births, accidents, health changes, all makes my heart hurt. Life can be very hard. It can also be very confusing, uplifting, lonely, crowded, noisy and deafening quiet, all at the same time. Sometimes, it’s hard to sort out.

Enjoy your last full weekend of shopping and preparing for Christmas. We’re going to a play at McGuigan Arts Academy Friday night. It’s “Ugly Seasonal Sweater Soiree.” It will be just the mood brightener I need. These kids are so talented, I love to see it coaxed out of them. Their confidence grows, and before you know it, it’s a big hit! More about this tomorrow. Have a beautiful day, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Fun Friday

Did some errands earlier today, and we just had lunch. The knees are still bad right now. We’ve had a busy week helping with getting Addison to and/or from school, taking Mom to get her hair done, and my other appointments as necessary. This is a very busy time of year. Sad to say, in three weeks or more, Christmas will be over. For the next three weeks, some of us need to get started with cheerful, grateful attitudes. It becomes a habit after three weeks, and will be easier to summon when we need it.

We received the best mail today! Billy McGuigan recorded a solo album during quarantine. What else is a musician to do when in quarantine? He wrote and recorded everything. By himself. It should be great. I’m going to wait until tomorrow to give it a listen while I’m writing in the morning. It should be great. I know it’s old school, but I do like CD’s.

This weekend I’m gathering and wrapping all the little gifts for our grandkids in Colorado. I’d like to mail them by next Wednesday. Should make it. I also want to decorate, too. I have nice decorations for our new tree, and it’ll be nice to have it up again. We don’t exchange gifts among any adults in the family. It’s all part of preparing for the holiday. Preparing your heart is important, too. Stories abound of generosity and goodwill during the season, yet, as soon as it’s over, people, being human, go back to selfishness and stinginess. So sad. Let’s try not to do that anymore. Let’s all try to be wonderful humans.

We had a new Keto meal tonight. The Babe found it online and suggested we try it. Ground beef, broccoli, cream cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake it. It was tasty and there is enough for another meal. Those are the best dinners to cook. After a month, we’ve both lost about fifteen pounds. It’s strange, though, it shows much more in how our clothes fit. That is the real test. It’s a process. We didn’t gain it all in a day, we won’t lose it in a month, either.

It’s a brief blog, tonight. It will be longer tomorrow, it’s time to say good night. Proof I write much better in the mornings. I’ll see you then. Thank you for reading. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Thoughtful. Take care.

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

Finally Friday

I am so blessed. Dan and I have been married for twenty-one years. Prior to that, I was divorced for sixteen years. My ex husband had a huge family, since he was the middle of seven children. We actually babysat some of the older nieces and nephews in our early dating and marriage. Some were in high school when we divorced.

Some of the nieces send us Christmas cards. I feel so lucky to receive this mail from them! I can hardly believe their children are so grown and handsome, and the girls themselves are women of strength and spirit. I thank God for those continued relationships even after all these years. Christmas bears gifts of the type you least expect. And those are the best surprises!

Today was another day working on the quilting project I’m finishing for a friend. The deadline is whenever it’s finished, and that will be before January 1, 2020, so I’m not concerned about anything. It’s good not to be stressed during this busy week.

I’m hoping all of you stay well during the next week, too. I hear the flu is at high in Nebraska, based on the number of prescriptions for flu filled at Walgreens. Isn’t it interesting how data is collected sometimes? I wonder how their figures are broken out by age and sex? Have these people had flu shots?? I hope they all recover with no further complications. Flu can be such a wretched disease. The Babe and I are no longer in the “under 65” age category, so we are in more danger of being very ill. Yes, give us the big flu shot, and the jumbo shingles shot, too. Anything else you have for people of a certain age? Sign us up.

Yes, the time is getting shorter before Christmas. I only have two gifts to wrap, for Gavin, and I hope we have enough wrapping left to do those two gifts. I do wish we had more to wrap, it wasn’t a bad task overall. It used to take me a couple of nights (very late at night) to wrap gifts when the kids were still at home.

If you are driving to where you will be celebrating Christmas, please be careful. In the Omaha, Nebraska area alone, there have been several fatal accidents. Many were folks not wearing seat belts, some were speeding and using alcohol, some were due to weather. Please be careful as you travel, we want you back home safe and sound.

Once again, thank you so much for reading today. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. And I’ll see you back here tomorrow. One day closer! Have a good evening.

Weird Wednesday

Today I’m just taking a quick break from a very busy day. You who have had a puppy and wear glasses might have had the pup knock into your face while your specs are on. Throws them out of whack for sure. The day started with a trip to the optical company we do business at. They did the adjustment in a short time. Then on to Mom’s house.

She was ready but we still hung out for a little bit. She had to mail bills and go to the bank for some cash. It’s funny, she refuses to use her DEBIT card at an ATM. She writes a check and cashes it at a teller in the bank. She refuses the drive through lane. “The only banking that should ever take place is face to face, in the institution.” I find it funny. All you can do is allow enough time for her to get out, walk inside, and stand in line. She is so hard of hearing she and has limited vision, so it’s hard. She insists on going in alone. The days of the banker who could call you by name are long gone. I did get to experience that from Packers National Bank, Laddie Kozeny. He was a wonderful man, and knew my parents.

We went to the Omaha World Herald B-62 Luncheon. It is for retirees. She did not work there, but my father did from 1952 – 1988, and my older brother did for another thirty some years. Mom still attends as she is included in the group. Nice, nice people.

Tom Shatel, a sports columnist for the OWH was the speaker today. I read his column from time to time, and it was nice to hear his talk. He spent a time on Scott Frost, Nebraska Football, and Creighton/Nebraska volleyball. All worthy subjects and he did a great job. One thing he did discuss was the Omaha Press Club, which may open up and accept membership from other than newspaper, radio, and television news. By today’s standard, this is a daily column. I wonder if I could apply?? More on that later. It could be fun.

This week is half over and my gosh! I need to get some big stuff finished up this week. Having a puppy in the house means we need to clean the carpeting before I put up the tree. I will feel better with a fresh carpet. Then decorate. There are so many things to decorate with, I will have fun doing it. And today, I received a new nutcracker in the mail. It’s a fun one. The other six I have are from the 1980’s when Shopko sold them for $10 or so, when you spent so much on gifts. So, I did. They were quite nice. Hope Goldie leaves them alone.

Hope we meet again tomorrow. I’ll be here, will you? I hope so. Thank you.

A Beautiful Tuesday

It’s so hard to believe it is winter. Blue skies outside and warm temps. Good for getting errands finished, hoping it stays nice through Friday. Or it can do what it wants, which is usually what it does anyway. We really fuss and stress over the weather and it takes up a lot of time. Try not to panic. The most important thing to do is to be safe and calm.

I went to the bank to get some giftcards for Christmas giving. They don’t sell them! I would think a major bank in Omaha, Nebraska would sell gift cards. Anyone know why they don’t?? Some folks are getting cash instead. Spends the same, right? Hope you like green, kids.

I went into the Carters Outlet store and purchased a gift card for there. Kayla is growing pretty fast, and her mama prefers to pick out her clothes. The stock they have is unbelievable. The Outlet Mall seems to be a place where you need to know where you are going. Not good for someone who has back or knee issues. A beautiful day to be outdoors, though.

I am reading some books now that I’m having a little break from writing. One, “Elmwood Park,” written by John Brodston, is my first one. Nearly finished with it. It is a mixture of fact and fiction, based on an event that happened in Omaha’s Elmwood Park in 1960. Six young people were killed in a horrible car accident. It details the rescue turned recovery, it also tells a lot about the city at the time. I was only nine years old in 1960, so I really don’t recall much about the whole incident. It was very, very sad. The author was one year ahead of me in high school at Ryan, and he had some interesting takes on the local newspaper, the city itself, and the operations of the local County Hospital. I’d love to find out if this is where the fiction part was, or if it was elsewhere.

There is an interesting running story line within the book about a Catholic clergyman who was very outspoken on morals, Catholicism, and sin. I remember our Monsignor giving fire and brimstone like this, and it is not fun to sit and listen to. I remember this particular clergyman because he was at Holy Cross, where my grandparents attended. I need to ask my mom if she remembers Grandma talking about any of these issues and sermons. I love local stories. So much history!

This day has flown by, and now is the time to relax. This is the best time of the day. Tomorrow is a luncheon with my mom, and the VFW with friends for dinner. Nice day ahead!! Thank you for reading, I hop to see you back again tomorrow.