Friday, December 24, 2010

Holidays for one....

My biggest regret these days is that the old traditions don’t apply any more.  No more kids in costumes on Hallowe’en, and fireworks are banned in my community; no more Easter Bunny with spring clothes, comic books and chocolate; no more pictures on Santa’s knee (that one always brought a tear to my eye) or knowing the stockings are hung and waiting to be filled... With the advent of DVDs and downloading, awaiting the airing of “Rudolf” or “Frosty the Snowman” is a thing of the past, and I can watch the Grinch at any time, with Boris Karloff or Jim Carey.  The yearly countdown to holidays is no more;  no kids in school, no Christmas break, just working for the month of December, shopping 24 hours a day for the three weeks leading up to the one day of the year they close the doors.  Now is when I learn about myself; now I get to find out what traditions I did for everyone else, and which ones were really mine.

Dad loved the holidays and every tradition that went with it.  The  music, the food, singing carols together while we made our Christmas pudding - Silent Night” sung with three part harmony and woven together with his perfect Irish tenor -  wrapping gifts and stacking them under the tree, and the family all together sharing a meal, warm with affection and good whiskey.  There was always room at the table to fit one more plate, always a pair of arms to hold my children when they were small while I helped my Mother put the final finishes on the meal – placing olives and pickles on a tray and stirring the gravy in Granny’s turkey roaster.  I have that roaster in my cupboard now, and it holds the auras of the “ghosts of a hundred turkeys” in its’ cast iron and enamel body. Last year I barely had the energy to put up my tree; I still went to the field, cut it down with my own hands the way my Father did when I was small, stood it upright in the heavy cast iron stand, hung on the lights, the baubles, the garlands, and placed St. Nicholas on the top of the tree where my children had taken turns (under duress sometimes) every year.  

I have spent the last year asleep and dreaming, waiting to wake up from the long nightmare of grief and loneliness, but I didn’t get to have that luxury – if it is a luxury.  There were times I felt like the stuffing has been kicked out of me once too many times and I didn’t have enough fight left to do more than get back up and step back in.  But I am not numb.  I just hadn’t mustered the strength to fight back yet.  And while I was dreaming the rest of the world had left me behind.  When there is no one to share them with I really have no interest in celebrating those things; celebrating them alone seems hypocritical to me because a special day is only special when your loved ones  share it with you.  You can cook a turkey or roast a ham any day of the week, but without those you love it really doesn’t mean anything.  

But something changed in me over the last year.  This time Christmas Eve wasn't an ordeal watching happy couples walk together through the doors, and knowing my family was celebrating without me.  Somehow over the last 12 months I grew up.  This is really MY first Christmas.  One I should have had over 30 years ago, with no responsibilities other than being a guest in the home of someone I love.  I am not making a meal, there has been very little baking, the lights are up on the front of the house, and the tree stands in it's place - for the last time in this home, as it happens.  I have learned to let go, and to let things be.  I have finally found the peace I had been waiting for.  And from that place of peace comes new strength, and hopefully a new focus.

The truth is, the world doesn't treat you any worse than you let it, and  just as Eleanor Roosevelt said "no one can make you feel inferior without your permission."    Well, I no longer have the time to give anyone permission to make me feel inferior.  I have been down a long and difficult path, but I discovered that, just for now, I have everything I could ever want; self respect, courage, strength, joy, independence, and love for my family.  Anything else is just "stuff".  I can get my own stuff, but knowing that I am worth all the things I have fought for over the last while is the most important part of my future.  Now I get to go forward into the next part of my life with peace at last.  Hard won, hard earned, and willing to let things be.  

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where is the "housework fairy".....

I hate housework.  I don't think there is a single person on EARTH who enjoys the constant upkeep it takes to make sure your house is clean, sanitary and organized;  a necessary evil at best, at worst it's just evil!

I grew up not really understanding what housework was, because I don't remember Mom doing much!  I remember a couple of times when my sisters stripped the fir flooring of the house with turpentine!  I remember trying to keep my stuff contained in my room - without much luck, I may add!  I remember sweeping the kitchen floor before dinner, doing dishes every night, and "bucket brigades" when Mom used a ringer washer to do laundry and hung the clothes to dry on a rack over the stove in winter... but I really don't remember housework as anything I noticed happening.  It was a terrible shock (really!) when I moved away from home and realize the oven actually has to be cleaned once in a while, that toilets need scrubbing every day, that sheets get changed and laundry gets done more than once a week!

You can add more to that now.  Now that I am on my own and there is no one else making messes I have only my own "organized chaos" to deal with.  At the moment it is TOTAL chaos!  My little "Daisy Mae" chihuahua has given me 5 delightful puppies!  I adore them, play with them, feed them, clean them and keep their beds clean and piddle free!  But I am up most nights three or four times to quiet "Daisy" when she has to have a drink, or some food, or feed them, or go outside to pee or poop in the middle of the night so she doesn't make messes in the house...  so with Christmas on the way, and my attempting to whittle down my household goods while using up my time with puppies (and blogs... lol...) I am finding that the Chaos is a bit overwhelming.

And now my dear little "Penny" Shih Tzu has given me 6 totally sweet puppies as well....   As of today I have a three year old dog, a 2 and a half year old dog, a one year old dog, five "almost one month old" pups and six "almost one week old" pups... and two cats... and a huge Christmas tree in the living room....  and between you and me....


I have piles of newspaper ready to use in the playpen; mountains of puppy laundry that gets constantly used, washed, stacked and used again;  I still manage to keep myself and my uniform clean for work, but mealtime is getting to be on the fly;  more than likely I eat at work, or grab some yogurt and fresh vegies, washing everything down with lots of hot tea... But every day the floors need to be disinfected!  The pens get wiped down with alcohol soaked cloths to clean them, the couches are looking worse for wear (and desperately needing another washing), and the area rug has suffered the final insult and been rolled up for the trash.  And I still need to scrub the toilets, clean the dishes, do the regular laundry, change the sheets, sweep the floors, and stay on top of the regular chores that make up housework.

None of that matters really, though.  In just a few short weeks my little puppies will go to their "forever families" with a piece of my heart in each one.  They will be clean, cared for, well fed, cuddled constantly and played with before then.  They will know that humans are the source of all good things.  They will have manners, know how to eat their dinners, enjoy the "rough and tumble" of playing with toys, and will make someone else very happy.  And I know I will cry like a baby when they go.  For now I listen to their tiny voices and savour each and every moment.  If the dishes go a little longer in the sink or the laundry pile sits an extra day I don't really worry.

So, who wants to come and play with a basket full of puppies?  It will certainly be heartwarming, and it will give me immeasurable pleasure to share them while I have them...In the meantime, if housework is a necessary evil I guess I'll be evil for a while.  And will someone PLEASE give that housework fairy my address?