Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Well, I survived...

Christmas was challenging this year, but in a good way...

It was the first Christmas since my ex and I split up. I came across the tree ornaments and the tree topper that we bought together and got a little misty-eyed, thinking of the good times we had together. We had fewer and fewer good times in the last two or three years, but it was still sad to have that bit of finality on our marriage.

I cooked on Christmas Eve with my mother and we had a good time. We made scallops wrapped in bacon, homemade caesar salad (including the dressing and croutons from scratch) and a huge pot of Seafood Fra Diavolo sauce that I served over linguini. I just love cooking. I enjoyed every morsel. After dinner and dessert and also after FRU went to sleep, I arranged all the gifts under the tree. I just love doing that; everything has to be just so. Then I started cooking again! I put pork shoulder in the crock pot for BBQ Pulled Pork. I let it cook all night and my family just loved it.

I had a relatively easy time emotionally. Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the whole year. I used to help my now deceased Italian grandparents prepare the traditional fish dinner and just thinking of them on that day makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I know they were watching me, I could just feel them.

Christmas is so hard on so many people. All the bad blood from the whole year comes to the surface. But I stayed true to myself and I didn't spend it with anyone who was toxic to my inner peace. I felt peace this holiday, for the first time in a long time.

And that, I believe, is the true meaning of Christmas...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why Girlfriends Can Save Your Sanity...

I went to a movie with a girlfriend on Saturday. I picked her up and we saw The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. It was a silly, sappy romantic comedy but we both loved it. We laughed together through the whole thing and while I cried at the end, she laughed at me and that got me to laughing at myself. She said her husband would have hated it and I know my ex would have certainly hated it too. But it was just what the doctor ordered.

Getting my house, my family, my mind and my heart ready for Christmas is really hard work. There is all the physical labor (lugging out the dusty boxes from the garage and decorating the house), plus all the emotional labor (the arguing with family members and remembering those loved ones who have passed on). The emotional labor is the hardest to recover from.

But I spoke with a girlfriend in Georgia on Friday and even though we're both getting divorced and sometimes feel like we're living on the edge of a huge abyss and we're about to fall off, we both had lots to share and laugh about.

The laughter is what binds us all together. When someone makes us forget our troubles, even if it's just for a minute or two, that's enough to get us through the next rough patch.

I've had many girlfriends in my life who have carried me through. I got a card from one the other day and even though I haven't set eyes in her in over 10 years, she is still my summer sister and will always be. I looked at her picture and I was immediately transported back to Camp Henry Kaufman in upstate New York; I could even smell the musty smell that we never could get out of our clothes. She's now a wife and mother and lives about 2000 miles away. I wonder if we'll ever see each other again, face-to-face. Even if we don't, I still cherish that bond.

The girlfriend I went to the movies with on Saturday must have sensed my anxiety about Christmas and my ex and cooking and wrapping, etc. She made me laugh and bought me a coffee, mixed exactly the way I like it. I lived with my ex for 10 years and he never bothered to learn how I like my coffee. But this girlfriend did and she got one for me, and in the process, made me feel cherished and loved and it gave me just a bit of strength to get me through the next week. She doesn't realize the power that stupid and long gone cup of coffee gave me. Maybe I can get her a cup of coffee one day that will do the same for her.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Laughing at the expense of others (aka Tales of This Year's Holiday Party)

I work in a cardiac unit in a hospital and last night was the annual holiday party. For the first time, someone else planned the whole thing and I could attend as a guest. The venue was hip and fun, the food was fabulous (Thai seafood) and all of my co-workers were on their best behavior...except one. Why is it that at every single office holiday party I've ever attended or heard about, there's always that one person who makes a complete fool of him/herself? They probably don't drink a drop of alcohol all year, but have 3-4 cosmopolitans at the party thinking they can handle it.

Well, they can't...and this person keeps us laughing all year long. You can hear this statement being uttered on the 4Th of July: "Remember so-and-so at the Christmas party...he/she got plastered and danced a Bulgarian folk dance with those dull people from Accounting."

I always feel bad laughing at these people, but they give us so much material. I mean, if someone passes out in the restroom with their pantyhose 'round their ankles, do they really think their co-workers are ever going to let them forget it?!? And for the record, this did not happen to my co-worker last night, I was just being sarcastic.

I feel badly for the person who had too much to drink last night and she was sitting at a table full of registered nurses and CV techs so I know she was well-cared for and would get home safely...but, by George, I'm just glad it wasn't me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why is Christmas so emotionally draining?

I burst into tears last night for no good reason. Not just tears, but heart-wrenching sobs. All from watchig the Terri Irwin interview on the Barbara Walters special. She said that she misses the fun that she used to have with Steve. I miss having fun too.

Most of my time is spent taking care of others: I'm the assistant to the unit director of a cardiac unit in a hospital, I support about 10 other people at the hospital, I have a 4 year old, an ex-husband with no short-term memory and family members who love to guilt me into doing things for them. The only thing I do for myself is manicures, and I only do that once every 2-3 weeks. I used to go to the movies a lot, but all the Christmas tasks have gotten in the way of doing that lately.

Christmas brings up all kinds of memories, both good and bad. Families tend to try to bridge gaps during this time with varied amounts of success. My family is no exception. There are people I just don't want to deal with, and at this stage of my life, I'm no in the mood for playing games. I'm not going to pretend to like someone just because they are family and I'm not going to be forced to break bread with them at the dinner table. I lied to myself for a long time with disastrous results and I'm not doing it anymore. There are members of my family that are just plain destructive, and I won't subject myself to that any longer. I'm sick of pretending, I'm sick of kidding myself and I'm not going to perpetuate the insanity by subjecting my daughter to it.

Perhaps this is a hard stance, but I just don't want to live in a world of make-believe. Why should I pretend that my family is great and all is well when it's really not. Some members of the family get treated better than others and I want them to know that I won't tolerate being treated like a second class citizen any longer.

But on to nicer and more pleasant things. I need to purchase one more gift. FRU asked for two things for Christmas: A dancing Genevieve Doll (huh?) and a Snow White Dress. My ex found the doll; thank heavens, because I didn't know what da hail she was talking about. I'm going to find her the dress today. Then I'm really REALLY done shopping...and then, let the wrapping begin. You know, the process by which all gifts are wrapped in pretty paper, only to have it all torn off within seconds and stuffed into the garbage. I swear, whenever I think of whoever came up with the all-Christmas-gifts-must-be-wrapped rule, I hope they have a nice warm spot on the bench sitting next to Brutus in the ninth ring of hell!!!

Folks, let's start a new tradition this year. Spend Christmas with whomever makes you happy. Don't do any pretending. Do not, under any circumstances, feel that it's necessary to wrap any present that are bigger than your dining room table. And last but not least, remember to hit the liquor store to stock up on your favorite potion...it makes the holidays soooo much more tolerable...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Inaugural Post

I've recently discovered that I love reading the blogs of others. Writers seems to put a lot of themselves out there on the 'Net. So I thought I'd give it a try.

Life has a funny way of getting in the way of EVERYTHING. I'm usually too tired at the end of an average day to take a hot bath; that seems so pathetic. I'm a single mom now (my soon-to-be-ex) husband moved out in late July and I have primary custody of our 4 year old daughter, who I will refer to (probably often) as FRU, which is short for Fruit Roll-Up, her favorite food. It's just a nickname I came up with when I started posting on a message board.

FRU is the light of my life. When I look back on certain decisions that I've made, they all lead to her conception. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I was supposed to have that baby, at that point in time. She was concieved 3 months after the terror attacks that brought down the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon and she was born shortly after the 1st anniversary of that tragic events.

Now, every decision that has to be made, is made with FRU in mind. Can I do (fill in the blank) and still be home in time to put her to bed; how will she react to a cerain person or activity or task. But she makes me laugh...she has shown me unconditional love like I have never known...she has given me the gift of HER childhood. I get to relive my own childhood through her. I've rediscovered the joys of PB&J (no crust), the smell of crayons, and all those Christmas specials on TV, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, which I recorded so we can watch it over and over.

Ah, yes, life is exhausting and it takes all I have to get through the day, but then I pick FRU up from pre-school and somehow she gives some of that infamous pre-schooler energy and I flourish through the next few hours. She doesn't realize how much she gives me...I sometimes wonder if I'm capable of giving as much to her.