I love Christmas cards. I mean I write Victorian historicals, the era in which Christmas cards first began. I love the ones with pictures of people’s kids and furr-babies. Mostly I love the ones that come with letters telling us all about the family’s year.
When December rolls around I have every intention of sending out cards of our own. We have ridiculously cute daughters (and cats!) and we have stuff that happens that could easily go in a Christmas letter. But then the stress of the holiday starts to eat at me. The holiday to-do list grows and grows and I spend too much on presents and ultimately something has to get scratched off the list to alleviate stress and those cards are the first things to go.
I haven’t sent them in years. Since we got the girls, actually and I think I only send them two other times before that (since I’ve been married). I don’t know what it is but the whole notion of putting together cards and sending them out just makes me kinda nutty. Here’s the problem though, as I mentioned I really love getting them, but I know that people will eventually stop sending to me because they don’t receive from me. So to those of you who send me cards, please keep sending them, they make me happy. And please know that if you don’t get a card from me again this year (I can tell you right now, not gonna happen) it’s not you, it’s me.
So how about you? Where do you stand on the whole Christmas card thing? Do you like pictures or Christmas letters or just the traditional cards?
Lately I have been plagued by awkward situations. Maybe it’s because I have a young child who is now at the age that she notices and comments on everything. If only I could blame them all on her. I’m not the only one who suffers these endless moments where I wish a hole would swallow me up, am I?
Baby Galen has decided to walk out of preschool with her latest BFF and her BFF’s mother, who I don’t very well. What I do know of her, I don’t like. I don’t particularly like Baby Galen’s sassy, whiny new BFF very much either, but it’s just a short walk to the car. What can happen? I’ll tell you what can happen. Before I can even think of some inane small talk to exchange with sassy, whiny BFF’s mom, the girls have already cooked up a play date! The next thing I know, Baby Galen is saying, “Can my new friend come to my house and play?” I want to say no, but I’m totally in a rough spot, so I say, sure. “Maybe her mommy can drop her off some day.” And instead of playing along, the other mom says, “No, I don’t think so.” Sheesh! She could have at least waited until we were near the cars before saying that. It seemed like ten miles to the parking lot as we walked in silence and the girls boo-hooed.
I’m out at dinner with a friend of mine and a mutual friend of ours is throwing a party the next week. So I ask, “what are you wearing to the party?” She says, “What party?” And I still don’t get it, so I say, “Abigail’s [names changed to protect the guilty] party.” You already know what she said, right? She wasn’t invited. Oh, why haven’t I learned to keep my mouth shut?
This one is not my fault, but it’s one of those instances when you want to pretend you don’t know your child. Every Sunday at church there’s a children’s sermon, given by the youth leader that Baby Galen sees on a regular basis at her preschool. She’s comfortable with her and not at all too shy to speak up during the lesson and share her thoughts. In front of the whole church. So recently Miss Julie said something that made Baby Galen think about bugs. Unfortunately, we had a cockroach in our house a day or two before, and we’d had to kill it. We live in Houston. We get the occasional roach in the house. But as soon as bugs were mentioned, I knew what was coming. “Miss Julie!” a little voice boomed through the fellowship hall. “We had a roach in our house, and mommy said eek and daddy stomped it and sent it to live with Jesus.” Oh, just send me to Jesus now too. Because everyone knows she’s our child, and they’re all laughing and looking at us, and Ultimate Sportsfan and I were sinking in our seats. “We called the exterminator,” I whispered to our neighbors. “We don’t usually have roaches!” But I’m sure everyone is envisioning an episode of Hoarders now.
I shared, and now it’s your turn. Tell us your embarrassing moments. I have a copy of Reality TV Bites, one of my backlist contemporary books full of embarrassing moments to give away.
I remember when I looked forward to weekends. I loved Saturdays in particular. Friday I was tired after teaching all week. Friday was a good night for Ultimate Sporstfan and I to get frozen yogurt, watch a few shows we’d recorded on the DVR, and fall asleep on the couch.
Saturday was for sleeping in, going out to brunch, reading all afternoon, and then dressing up for dinner and a night out. Sunday was for church, if we hadn’t had too much fun the night before, and a long afternoon nap.
I miss those days.
Now weekends are a blur of activity. This past weekend we were invited to no fewer than 4 parties, I had a booksigning, I had to attend a friend’s booksigning, and we had to go to the grocery store, dry cleaners, wash clothes, and clean the house. I did not even have time to read much less check my email. Sunday night as I fell into bed, all of that email in my inbox on my mind, I wailed, “What happened to weekends? I actually look forward to Mondays!”
It’s true. What kind of person looks forward to Mondays? I guess writers with children and husbands look forward to Mondays. Lovely Mondays when the husband goes back to work, the kid goes back to school, and the routine begins again. It’s just the cats and me. I have a handful of dishes to watch, plenty of time to write (well, really there’s never enough time to write), and a house not filled with the sound of football blasting from the TV.
How long have I known I had to write this blog? Weeks. When am I writing it? Monday. See? Monday is the day works gets done, pages are written, houses are cleaned, home cooked meals are prepared, inboxes are cleaned out, and diets begin.
What are your weekends like? Do you look forward to Friday or Monday?
My son’s fate was sealed at birth. His uncle is a SuperBooster for the University of Central Florida, and from Boychild’s first Christmas (a month after he was born) he began receiving UCF Knights-themed presents. Shirts, jammies, booties, footballs…I don’t remember a black-and-gold pacifier, but if one had been available SuperUncle would have provided it.
The die was cast. He would be a UCF Knight–in spite of the fact that, among us, we’ve got the state of Florida covered, college-wise. His Highness and I got our undergrad degrees at USF in Tampa. My dad went to law school at the University of Florida. My mother went to Florida State back when it was Florida State College for Women, and Girlchild followed in her footsteps. Plus, we lived for years in Miami, which has to count for something with the University of Miami, right?
We couldn’t compete. SuperUncle maintained an impressive, unbeatable campaign for eighteen unbroken years–and won. Long after getting his undergrad degree at UCF, Boychild still owns a treasure trove of Knights paraphernalia. The shirts, the tailgating tent, the tailgating chairs, the decals, the pennants, the pacifier. No, wait…there never was a pacifier.
So you can imagine what it’s like when football season starts, as it did this past week. Boychild has several season tickets…thanks to guess who? But friends and family clamor to be invited, so there’s always a group in front of the TV at our house, too, for every Knights or Seminole game.
Unless I get very, very unlucky, I’m in the home group. No offense to the teams, but Florida Septembers are unbearably hot and muggy. I like my air conditioning, my mute button, and the joy of a bathroom that isn’t four staircases away.
Plus, at home I can enjoy football my way—100% biased, and 100% sappy.
By “biased,” I mean screaming “Pass interference!” every time our receiver drops the ball. (True pass interference is not required.)
By “sappy,” I mean falling for every human-interest story the commentators serve me. I cry more at TV sports than probably is normal. Sometimes, when the cameras zoom in on the losers, I have to cover my eyes.
This week, watching FSU’s new quarterback, Jameis Winston, was the emotional thrill. The kid was touched by magic, and when I saw him tiny-dancing with sheer happiness on the sidelines….Yep. I teared up, and my night was complete!
How about you? Does your family get football fever? Who’s your team? Do you like to be there, or do you prefer watching at home?
In January, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an account of how the author spent one year “test-driving” the theories and practices of happiness. Before starting her research, she’d had an epiphany: “The days are long, but the years are short.” She realized time was passing and she was not focusing enough on the things that really mattered to her.
The book resonated with me. As a writer, life is a constant juggling act. I’m always mindful of striving for balance between family and work. More often than I’d like to admit, life gets out of balance. The result: my family and I get very unhappy.
Enter The Happiness Project.
I loved Gretchen’s method: after analyzing what made her happy, what made her unhappy and what felt “right” and what could be a better fit, she identified twelve areas of her life that needed attention and devoted one month to exploring each in an effort to enrich her life and make her truly happy.
Among practical and profound tips for living a happier and more fulfilled life, the book also made me realize that all my New Year’s resolutions and goals didn’t necessarily have to be tackled at once. Why not break them down, assign them specific months in 2013? Why not look at it as my own personal Happiness Project? It seemed like a good way to make it easier to achieve my goals without feeling overwhelmed Also, I hoped to keep each ball in the air as I add others (after the previous goals had gained traction). As we prepare to enter the last third of 2013, I wanted to review what I’ve done so far and what I have left to tackle in the final third of the year.
Here’s what I’ve been working on:
1. January – Set office hours and guard them
I have definitely been more mindful of “reporting to work.” Because of that, I’ve been more productive this year. I’ve met my Special Edition goals and have been working on some other projects, too.
2. February – Limit social media time to make room for other things in life
This is a struggle for me. I can get *so* caught up in social media – especially FaceBook and Pinterest. I’ve had to really reign myself in. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but I get right back on. Many of you know I’ve been MIA on FaceBook recently. I will continue to strictly limit my time until after I meet my October 1 deadline.
3. March – Learn to say, “No, thank you”
Another difficult task. However, I’ve started to look at time as currency and I’ve been on a pretty strict “budget.” This, along with maintaining my “office hours” had helped me be more productive.
4. April – Mental declutter: Let go of what weighs me down/doesn’t make me happy
This was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. However, I’m often plagued by “mind squirrels.” I use affirmations to keep the under control.
5. May – Refill the well: dedicate at least one hour once a week to art journaling
As much as I hate to admit it, this one had been hit and miss. I need to focus on it more. See, by revisiting these goals, I’m reminding myself what I need to work on.
6. June – Make more time for reading
This had been going well. I should’ve kept a list, and I think I’ll start. I want to concentrate more on the classics – one of my goals (not on this list, but on my actual list of 2013 goals was to read all of Jane Austen’s works this year. I’ve read three so far… I have some catching up to do. Right after I finish MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.
7. July – Physical declutter part 1: tackling my closet
Just in time for RWA! I did go through my closet and try on EVERYTHING. I sent donated fifteen bags of things I no longer needed. Then, of course, I went out and purchased things for the RWA conference. Not fifteen bags worth, but I didn’t feel as guilty adding more to my closet.
8. August – Physical declutter part 2: tackling my office
This had been interesting. I’ve been deep in deadline since returning from the RWA conference. So, I’ve used the Fly Lady’s suggestion of throwing away or donating seven things every day. It’s a slow method, but I can see the progress. This task will probably stretch to the end of the year.
That’s it so far. I still have the following on the list:
9. September – Time to get healthy: yoga, water and vitamins
10. October – Continuing education
11. November – Gratitude
12. December – Take inventory and plan for the new year
I’ll check in toward the end of the year and report on my progress. In the meantime, have you revisited your 2013 goals? Or what would you like to accomplish between now and the end of the year? I have some books that I brought back from the conference to give to a couple of people who post.
Nancy’s book CELEBRATION’S BRIDE is available now. RT Book Reviews gave it a fabulous 4.5 star review, saying ” Thompson rocks the pages with her quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….” I hope you’ll enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.