27 December 2013

It's A Wonderful Life...

I love the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" for so many reasons but especially for setting the mood and focus of the holiday season for me. A renewal of the things that really matter. 

It's not any secret that my family thrives on humor, odd though it may be sometimes, but it works for us and has had the bonus of keeping me sane over the years.  This year, Christmas at our house was normal... well, as normal as our family can be when it comes to Christmas. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone in our quirky family could be considered a poster-child for normality in any sense of the word.  I can live with that.

Our immediate family has a tradition concerning the making and using of Christmas lists that ensure that no matter how much or how little money is available for presents, there will be plenty of cheer, humor and love. I originally posted the traditions many years ago if you want to know the root of the hilarity that can be found here at our house. (Well, most years anyway as life does sometimes get in the way, especially when the deployment rotations come around or other mishap and mayhem. I wouldn't want to make our family sound perfect and completely idyllic (my kids would laugh hysterically because at least 75% of our lives is unbloggable... at least by my standards.)

The Christmas list affair for this year was pretty good. I won't post everyone's lists in their entirety but there are a few items that truly stand out. So as not to embarrass the offspring I'll allow the not so innocent to remain anonymous. (And no. They are not listed in any particular order. And yes, I'm cutting and pasting.)  :)

     ~ I want a clean room. [I had to laugh at this one]
     ~ Seasons of Vampire Diaries on DVD
     ~ Knives of the non-buttery variety
     ~ Vampire Diaries Poster
     ~ Edward Elric's Watch (he’s from Fullmetal Alchemist)
     ~ http://www.tungstenlove.com/vampire-diaries-elena-vervain-necklace THIS ONE I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT THIS SO BAD!!! [Sense a trend here?]
     ~ Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood seasons
     ~ Cool and interesting apartment illuminating items
     ~ That pen that scans a color and writes in it
     ~ Index cards. Like 200. In different colors
     ~ Fuzzy and/or sleep related items
     ~ The making of Harry Potter [book]
     ~ Tea
     ~ Teapot
     ~ Tivana Tea Gift Cards
     ~ Tea, tea, tea [It must be their father's English, Scottish and Welsh genes... mine all came from Quebec]

At least there wasn't a catapult listed this year.  Now, about these lists... one of our five daughters gave us her list three days before Christmas and Christmas morning she still got to unwrapped a 24 pack roll of toilet paper. (among other gifts) She laughed and said that she surely could use such a useful present.  We were pretty lenient this year, I think. Nary a jock strap in sight for any of our five daughters. A fact I'm sure that crossed each of their minds as they unwrapped each present. Ah the joys of parenthood!

I asked for Erin's list and she said she had given it to her father, so I had my husband email it to me (he was TDY in Florida at the time) and in it he included Rachel's Christmas List. I was happy. A two-fer so I didn't have to stress and send out 'the brute squad'...yet. Nor did I have to call the Emergency Stress Relief Hotline more than once or twice this season so far, so life is good. 

Unfortunately for Rachel, we found out three days before Christmas, whilst having her friends for dinner [No, they were not on the menu... they were our honored guests... um, they dined with us. Lord love the English language because I'm too lazy to go fix my grammar!], that the list her father had sent me... was from her Junior year of High School! [She is now a college Freshman].
Me to Rachel: "That's unfortunate for you as I've been using that list since October."
Rachel: "I didn't write a list this year. What was on the list?" 
After cranking up the computer, I read from her list at the dinner table.
Rachel: "I already have most of the things on it! There is only one thing on that list that I'd still like for Christmas."
Me: "Let me read you Erin's list as the two of you have several of the same things on these two lists. I'll see what I can come up with."
Well, since she didn't write a list this year, I guess it could have been a lot worse... for her. My husband and I could have put our heads together to create her list. That's the rules of this family tradition, after all.

Rachel glared at her father.
"Why did you send her that list?"
Husband: "I didn't!"
Me: "I have the emails right here honey." 
I probably shouldn't have thrown him under the bus like that and now that I think about it, I should go and apologize... maybe... a little later...
Husband: "I don't remember sending it. I only sent Erin's!" 
This time I was kind enough to change the subject.

Just in case you think this episode is truly over? It has become the gift that keeps giving. Let me tell you a little more about the events that are linked to that darn list, although I can only post the latter half of the adventure as the first half is a story best left for another day. I don't strive to be Tolstoy.

So Rachel's boyfriend and best friend were visiting and after she left the room, I told them that the only two things I had actually gotten off the list so far was a book I know she didn't have and the one item she had mentioned as a still viable Christmas List option. (I told them they could come over Christmas morning to watch if they wanted to.)

Her friends said they thought she would love it!

I showed her sisters this gift previously and they all agreed that she would love it!

On Christmas Eve I showed it to my husband and he also agreed she would love it!

...and then he handed it back to me...

...which is why what happened next was truly lamentable...

Yup. I promptly lost it among all the other presents I was wrapping. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning searching for that darn thing. I removed EVERY item of trash from the trash bags. I looked inside EVERY plastic bag, container, box and paper to no avail. I tore the place apart and then finally I went to bed defeated. I then hoped that it might have gotten wrapped in with some other present so the next morning I explained that there was small gift that had gone on the lam and would they look out for it. I told Rachel that I would not tell her what it was unless no one else came to the rescue before every present was unwrapped.

Unfortunately, my bad luck was holding on to me like it was at a super glue convention and I was the test dummy. So I told Rachel what it was.  At first she was real quiet and then she said,
"And you lost it?" 
She truly would have loved it!

Everyone helped me look for it and when the search was fruitless, I went online and ordered another one so harmony was restored.  This definitely has a silver lining as it means she'll be walking down to the mailbox to get the mail every day until her present arrives.  It's all about the lemonade.

Still, I know there is hope that it will be found before we have to consider the milk carton route. I know this is true because I found the present Rachel had bought Nicole for last year's Christmas celebration whilst wrapping presents for this year.  What a year it's been!

Rachel was a great sport about it and a replacement is coming.

This year I bought all of our daughters union suits (or long handles, traditionally red with a butt flap, but does come in purple) along with thick woolen socks. (This is, after all, New England)  Dumbledore was absolutely right. There's nothing like a pair of warm woolen socks!

Erin was an enormous help this year and spent three days wrapping all the stocking stuffers... individually... even the crayons in the box were not spared her loving touch.  Her sisters watched her do this... for three days. So when Erin opened one of the gift boxes from Rachel, inside the lid was written:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
This box was wrapped empty
Ha! You thought this would rhyme...

Nina was sort of picked on this year in a funny kind of way. I've already mentioned the toilet paper. Nicole and Rachel added their artistic skills and wrapped two bras that were gifts. (this is a family of women and my husband is trained to perfection not to blink an eye at requests to buy things like this before he comes home) It's definitely creative and funny as hell to look at when they were done.

When my husband came home with this tall Darth Vader (it's taller than the lamp) all I could think of was... well one of our daughter's did ask for an attractive male slave. Two out of three adjectives isn't all that bad, is it? Ok. Maybe that should be one out of three adjectives.  [If you are wondering what he is holding, it's a lego platform from years past. If you know our family at all, it won't come as any surprise that our family holds legos, books and chocolate sacred in this house. Not necessarily in that order].

Erin did not escape her father's warped humor as he wrapped the slippers from her list... individually (this is before he knew she had done the same to all of the stocking stuffers). But funnier than that, for Erin he wrapped a bunch of pennies in a box, and another box filled with tissue paper and although an accident, he wrapped and labeled three of the union suits meant for her sisters, as hers.  She was exasperated and told him she didn't need three union suits of various sizes.  The apple never falls far from the tree in this family.

Then I imagine the day continued on in the same fashion as everyone else. Those who were not in their 'jammies' put on their union suits and wool socks and on went the video games (which sometimes can be a wonderful spectator sport), our twenty something daughters pulled out our huge supply of legos (see Darth Vader), and the rest read new books until dinner time.  My husband made prime rib (because he didn't get to the butcher shop until it was closing on Christmas eve and they didn't have the spoon roast that he wanted, so instead they sold him a prime rib roast for the same amount of money! He does hunt and gather rather well, I must say) and although the beloved pumpkin cheesecake was missing this year, it was still a fabulous dinner thanks to my husband!

I miss blogging. I miss the ability to write down all the wonderful blessings I have so that I can let go of whatever is stressing me at the moment.  The problem is... it takes forever for me to write it down and then go back and edit, edit, edit.  We're talking HOURS. Because to publish anything on the web is most likely to remain for my posterity.  I have stopped using facebook and news feeds because I have to face the fact that I am someone who becomes hyper-focused incredibly easily and when I glance at the clock, I panic when I realize that I've just lost four or five hours and have nothing to show for it in terms of housework, physical rehabilitation or just plain stepping out my kitchen door to walk down the driveway.

Unfortunately, this means I rarely write anything anymore and I feel like my life is less colorful than it use to be. There are other things that take priority these days and for the foreseeable future, so I think I will have to be content with whatever I can write, whenever I can write it.

Because I no longer have a following, I don't have to feel I've disappointed anyone by not being consistent. I remember more clearly that I started this blog so many years ago as therapy for the soul and it's ok if it only needs a cactus amount of water to flourish. It has gotten me through some pretty rough times as well as being a place to remember my blessings. Life is short. Live it out loud, in technicolor and with humor at every opportunity.

No quote of the day. Only a very heartfelt Happy Holidays to all who may drop by.

UPDATE: 28 Dec 2013 - Item was NOT found where I was wrapping presents. If I hadn't had the urge to clean out some boxes in the hall, I would never have seen it until I dusted. The last time I dusted was before the kids were born. My mother-in-law assured me that I would someday have a clean house when all of our offspring had left the nest. 

... I'm still waiting for that day and she's not around anymore to tell me when that day might be. It hasn't arrived and four of our kids are over the age of 18. I'm sure she would have laughed and told me that there will come a time when I miss them living at home. I'm beginning to have my doubts...


  1. Wonderful, as always, to see you pop up in my feed reader. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2014 with piles and piles of blessings.

  2. Hey Bette! Glad to see you popping up too... Although, now that I think about it, we should probably 'attend' the blogs because I do know a child who loves to play Whack-A-Mole. :)

    Still, I wish you and your family many blessings this year!


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