Saturday, December 23, 2017

An Epiphany

I think everybody will agree that 2017 was a tough year.  The election, the me too movement, the usual mass murders and the continuing threats of terrorism.

Personally my life is going through changes and I'm sort of thinking that our country's issues are exacerbating my own crises.

Whatever the reason, I have just come to realize that all these events are coming to a head and that they will make us better in the future.  We're all going to have to look at it that way or we're going to be in a permanent funk.

I do believe that part of America wants to return to the old ways where the white man rules, where money is power, and where the food chain is part of life.  Those on the other side of a more humane way of approaching things have had eight years of reigning and those from the old school don't really care for their approach.

I'm a Libra and I'm in the middle.  I've never been a fervent feminist though I've always wanted to lead an independent life and be an accomplished individual but I've never really blamed anybody else if I didn't succeed.  I have great respect for others and for their struggles and successes but I do believe that initiative and discipline are a part of getting ahead.  

My nephew who has never kept a job for more than six months told me that my late brother, his dad, once told him that it's all a matter of luck as to whether one succeeds or fails.  That to me is a copout.  

So on a grander scale, let's just say that the struggle between the old and the new is current and not etched in stone.  Though we don't have complete control of how things go, we can do our part and maybe have some impact on our future as a country.  I would omit finger pointing and name calling as part of the mix.  There are loftier means of being involved.  

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

I'm Corny

I'm pretty sure it began with all those ballet, piano, and drama lessons that began when I was four, but I love anything that is saccharine and corny.  I was raised on doing the hula and the can can, singing Easter Parade and being Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan.

Especially during the holidays, I am prone to create an Ozzie and Harriet atmosphere just like my mom created for me.  I rarely miss the Macy's Day Parade (though I walked the Turkey Trot this year instead), the Parade of Roses on New Year's Day or a night during the holiday watching "White Christmas."  The day after Thanksgiving, I start to play a collected number of Christmas CD's by Ella, Harry Connick, Jr., Ottmart Leibert,  Neil Diamond and a bunch of the usuals like Bing and Dean. Oh what fun it is!  On Christmas Day with as many kids as I can muster around me or maybe just with my husband, the sounds of Handel's Messiah can be heard throughout the household.

I always top this off by starting a jigsaw puzzle at Thanksgiving and continuing to work on it until I finish it usually around Christmas.  I've done Elvis, presidential buttons and snow scenes. This year's entry:  Movie Posters.  Last year I did 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.

In between I shop, wrap and prepare food if anyone is around to eat it, but even if they aren't, recreating memories associated with all these rituals is something I hope to do for a long time to come.

Corny is good.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Jitters

This week my landscape "designer" fired me.  I have used this service for more than ten years, many years before this young person purchased it from the woman who originally created the business.  She was devoted to personal service.  In fact her entire family worked the business and one sister still works there today.

It is true that I I'm a very meticulous person especially about charges.  I had asked him to explain why my year end bill was so high and queried him about what our contract specified.  Having owned my own retail business for eleven years, I'm certainly aware of customer concerns and handled them regularly in as politic a manner as I could. 

I was hurt by his response.  He said he'd had enough of my questions and he no longer wished to do business with me.  I've actually never been fired by any business and I'm seventy-four years old.

Being a sensitive soul, though few people know this to be true, I was stung.  I had recently had a difficult confrontation with my son and I am still feeling a bit paranoid today.  Am I too demanding?  Am I thinking that others should be more aware of my needs?  Should I just be quiet when things bother me?

Of course this is a matter of judgement in the long run.  It took me years to speak up and now that I do, when something bothers me I get in trouble.

I think everyone is kind of sensitive right now.  The country's climate is so uneasy.  People are fighting all the time for what they believe to be their rights and their privileges.  It's Christmastime right now and there seems to be a lack of joy.  Everybody is on eggshells including me and certainly including my former landscaper.

In response to my malaise, I am trying to put all this into perspective, but it's not coming easily.  If this streak of sadness is coming to me, someone I consider myself a very lucky person, then what are others feeling and thinking?  

I hope we all get over this soon.  It's a time for introspection and for making a strong effort to reverse this collective feeling.  I have no answers, but I'll work on it.  Maybe we all can work on this.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Eight Days of Christmas

Let's get one thing on the table right away.  I am the daughter of two Jewish parents, I married a Jewish man and I raised both of my boys to be Jewish.  I consider myself Jewish, though not particularly observant.  I've always belonged to a temple/synagogue and once in a while I go to services.

I have always lived in America, a primarily Christian country, and I've lived in neighborhoods where I was either in the minority or else among a substantial number of Christians.  Of course, I grew up in the fifties, a time when segregation among different ethnic and religious groups was fairly normal and the word "inclusion" had not been coined.

What I'm really trying to say is that even though I'm Jewish, I LOVE Christmas.  As the child of a German Jewish mother, I had a Christmas tree.  I lived in a suburb where I was the first Jewish member of my fourth grade class and I learned every Christmas carol both religious and seasonal.

When I raised my family we initially had a Christmas tree and only stopped having one when some of our Jewish neighbors complained.

At that point I began a tradition that has continued for at least forty years now and that is still going on even as I am reaching later life.

We try to celebrate the season on Christmas Day with the family members who are around.  I buy eight gifts for each member of the family that symbolize the eight days of Chanukah, a somewhat less significant Jewish holiday that occurs during the Christmas season.  Every year I say I'm going to discontinue the tradition.  It costs too much and it takes too much time.  And every year out of habit I continue to do it.

I buy one gift that has the same theme for everyone.  Last year everyone got earbuds or headphones.  The year before everyone got plaid shirts.  My kids in particular remember one year when they were growing up and my husband and I were scrimping for funds.  Two of their gifts were one sock of a pair and then the other!

Nothing makes me happier than gathering together for brunch or dinner and opening the gifts from number one to eight that range in price from expensive to cheap. That includes dogs and cats (but only one for them!).  I put up the Happy Hanukah sign on the fireplace and we eat bagels for breakfast and prime rib for dinner.  We play the Hallelujah Chorus, but now no other Christmas carols, since my daughter-in-law is more culturally Jewish than our family.

To me traditions run strong.  I'll give my German mother credit for instilling that belief in me.  Every holiday was observed with great panache whether it was Passover, Easter, or a birthday. The memories are strong and the anticipation each year continues to make life richer.