Want to spice up your marriage? I recommend starting in the kitchen. Earl and I have been married for 20 years, and it worked for us. Read all about it in my current column.
One thing that’s great about being a columnist is that I can share my proud moments with a wider audience. In other words, my bragging can reach farther and wider than it could otherwise. Hooray for Abby, our geography whiz.
We’re all back into our regular routine after the holidays, but re-entry was tough. Read about it in this weekend’s column.
Today is supposed to be the first day back to school for my children after the Christmas vacation. It’s snowing, though, and school is cancelled for today. Based on the weather forecast, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be cancelled tomorrow, too.
A few years ago, snow days following a twelve-day vacation would have found me rocking in a corner, raving as all mothers of young children tend to do now and then. Today, I’m okay with it. We’ve had a great vacation and I don’t mind extending it a bit.
Of course, if I couldn’t work from home, it might be another story. But as it is, I can plan the next several weeks of music, write announcements and bulletin blurbs, and plan choir rehearsals from the comfort of my own home.
We’ve had quite the little staycation. Of course, the few days leading up to Christmas were busy with wrapping, trying to be good, and writing notes to Santa, plus the intense musical preparations for the various Christmas Eve and Day masses. Christmas was fun, with a nice visit from my in-laws. The 26th was a pajama day for everyone but my husband, who had to work, and my daughter, who had to wear some of her new clothes. On the 27th, the kids and I went visiting with some family, and then my in-laws took the kids for the weekend to their home in Western Mass. Earl and I went to the movies, out to dinner, shopping, to the gym…we had a really great couple of “couple” days.
Monday was a day with appointments for the kids, and I also took them to the gym. Tuesday we all went to the movies and then to our friends’ house for a lovely family New Year’s Eve party. Yesterday we visited with my sister and brother-in-law, and waited for the snow. And today, here it is!
I am starting to feel a bit like it’s time to begin packing up the decorations, even though my favorite thing these past weeks has been to enjoy my morning coffee-and-quiet time looking at the Christmas tree. I’m not quite in my January get-it-all-done mode yet, however. So I’ll do a little today — in between music-planning sessions — and see how it goes. I still have the Christmas tree to enjoy whenever I need a break.
The holidays have a way of setting expectations. Or, rather, people have a tendency to set expectations during the holidays. Yet, just because this time of year is special to many people doesn’t mean that life changes from the ground up. Following are some thoughts in this vein.
Truth #1: Most people who give gifts truly want to make the recipients happy with their gifts. Differences in taste, however, sometimes complicate matters. Plus, when people don’t know what to give, it can make them cranky and lead to disappointment for both giver and recipient.
Truth #2: It can be hard for some people, however, to communicate what they would like to receive as a gift and/or what they would like to give. Interpersonal dynamics can make open discussions difficult.
Truth #3: For this reason, gift receipts really come in handy sometimes. They’re also great where almost-teenage girls are concerned, especially a couple of days after Christmas, when “I like it” gives way to “I’ll just wear it at home.”
Truth #4: Just because the cookies are there does not mean that they have to be eaten.
Truth #5: People do not really change during the holidays. People are who they are, and they may be more so during times of heightened emotion or expectation, but they are not likely to have a personality reversal for one week out of the year. To expect otherwise is not healthy or productive. This may be a relief or a disappointment, but either way, it’s a safe bet.
Truth #6: January will come, and then February. For some, this is an extraordinarily difficult season. For others, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Time marches on, smoothing out the rough spots, rounding the sharp edges of emotional highs and lows.
Truth #7: Just because the fudge is there does not mean it has to be eaten.
Truth #8: Plumbing problems do not observe downtime between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Also, laundry does not suddenly learn how to do itself.
Truth #9: People celebrate the holidays differently. Some watch movies on Christmas Eve; others go to church. Some display decorations until Epiphany or later; others pack them away on December 26th. Relax. It’s okay. Celebrate, or don’t, as you like, and remember that others’ choices are as meaningful to them as yours are to you.
Truth #10: Eggnog pound cake keeps very well in the freezer, so it doesn’t all have to be eaten in December.
I am sure there are many, many more truths about this time of year, but ten is a nice, round number. Happy New Year.
I got a little reflective with this one. Happy New Year!
A week ago, I was rested, relaxed and ready to enjoy preparing for Christmas. Today, not so much.
I’ve done a fair amount of shopping, planning, ordering, etc. for Christmas, and things at church are more or less under control, too. I sent off the Christmas Eve worship aid to be printed today, and both the children’s and adult choirs are making steady progress in their musical preparations. We’ve had a lot of funerals lately, which has kept me a little extra-busy, but I don’t mind. I hope that my providing music for the funerals brings families some small measure of comfort in their grief.
This past week has also brought death to an acquaintance of mine from college, and to the son of a singing colleague, both far, far too soon. These two men were not part of my immediate circle of friends, but I grieve their passing.
My friend Mark and I were in college together. He was a brilliant pianist, vocal coach and all-around musician, and although we weren’t close in college, we’d been in touch in recent years via Facebook. He suffered from a congenital liver disease that put him in the hospital several times over the past few years, and ultimately would have required a liver transplant. Because of the seriousness of his condition, he was at the very top of the transplant list, and many of his friends, family and acquaintances, including me, were praying for a miracle. In the end, though, his body couldn’t hold out, and he died on Tuesday morning of this week. He was 46.
My friend Martha, with whom I sang in several operas in the 1990s, lost her 21-year-old son on Sunday evening. Michael had been home from college for the Thanksgiving weekend and to celebrate his grandfather’s (Martha’s father’s) 100th birthday. He was driving back to college in New York State when he swerved to avoid hitting a deer in the road. The vehicle rolled and he died at the scene, leaving his mother, father and twin brother.
I cannot stand either of these deaths. I grieve for Mark’s sister, who was with him until the end, and also for my friend, Stephanie, who was so close to Mark. Even more, my heart breaks for Martha and her family. I cannot imagine their grief.
My friend, Naomi, who is also touched by Mark’s and Michael’s deaths, put it brilliantly when she wrote, about Michael’s death, that it’s close enough to home to press her buttons, hard. That’s exactly how I feel. I did not know Michael, but I know Martha, and the thought of losing a child is beyond my capacity for understanding. It’s not right.
I’d like to be more eloquent about this but I don’t have it in me. Rest in peace, Mark. Rest in peace, Michael.