Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho befor Gobble, Gobble?

The Christmas season is here, according to the stores and the Home and Gardening television channel. Wait a minute -- did I sleep through Thanksgiving?

Now that I am a joyful, proud grandma, Christmas can't come soon enough. But it just doesn't seem right that Thanksgiving, a meaningful and sentimental celebration for families, should be preempted by "holiday" festivities, meaning Christmas sales, shows and assorted activities.

I went on a tour of five homes in Lilburn today with three friends. Each one was magnificently decorated for Christmas with trees and elaborate trimmings in every room. In the last house, Santa Claus served sips of Chardonnay to visitors ogling his wine cellar.

The homes were all lovely in different ways. Some were warm and cozy and you could tell a family really lived there. Some displayed amazing collections of Christmas villages and nostalgic figurines. One was elegant and sophisticated but didn't seem to say "sit down for a while" as much as to whisper, "didn't our interior designer do a faaaaabulous job"?

As I left each place, I wondered if the owners would be celebrating Thanksgiving at home. And if so, wouldn't it feel strange to be carving Tom Turkey to the beat of Jingle Bells?

Of course, those people are now fully prepared to smugly sit back and admire their fully decked out abodes and laugh at prograstinators like me who will be untangling strings of lights and scavenging through bags of ornaments in mid-December. The holidays have begun!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Potty Talk

Here I am, as usual, a day late and a dollar short! Yesterday was National Toilet Day and I forgot to observe it.

The mention of it made me think of my own private (until now) fearful relationship with the toilet. I have been the not so proud owner of exploding toilets, leaking toilets and apparently possessed toilets (one was known to let out eerie noises only at certain times of the night).

A coworker happened to tell me a few years ago that when her roommate went to use the commode, surprise, surprise, an alligator appeared in the bowl. I didn't doubt her for a second. Back in the '60's in the suburbs of New York City, a very popular present for high school boys to give their girlfriends for occasions when they were expected to come bearing gifts was a baby alligator. Why pet stores would sell such a creature is still beyond me but they did. The girls would be either amused, horrified, or annoyed at their beloved's lack of imagination. The mothers usually found no humor in this whatsoever and would promptly discard the critter into the toilet and flush it into the already overly inhabited New York sewage system.

Esso, which later became Exxon, advertised "Put a Tiger in Your Tank" for years -- they probably didn't realize their beloved animal had serious competition in many domestic tanks.

I read on-line that in Edinburgh, Scotland, a number of college students taped campus toilets shut to try to bring attention to the very serious problem of lack of proper sanitation across the globe. An estimated 40% of the world's population does not have the luxury of using bathrooms the way we are so used to taking for granted.

It puts a new emphasis on the severe consequences of our water shortage in the South and when we sit on the throne helps us to appreciate the possibly endangered opportunity.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall is here -- even in Georgia, hooray!!! I don't love the cold, windy days and nights but I don't consider 60 degrees freezing. I love the feeling of Autumn and all the things that come with it -- beautiful leaves, even if they are colorfully carpeting the lawn, warm apple cidar, fall festivals, being outside more, and Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.

As I was dashing off to work a few days ago -- I'm always dashing because I'm always running late -- I noticed a holly bush that is climbing up the chimney has bloomed. Maybe not earth-shattering news, but I've been in this house since 1985 and not one of the several holly bushes has ever produced one red berry. I got so excited and today ran out and snapped off a couple of twigs to brighten up one of the rooms. Of course, then I panicked about the very real possibility of my cat attacking one of the sprigs, chomping on its fruit and being found dead on the carpet hours later.

Amber, the cat, was brought home by my husband, Stan, nine years ago, after she had been found in a fire and brought to his office. We were not "cat people" but he fell in love with her and thus we were permitted to become her family, which she undoubtedly would sometimes like to reconsider. Anyway, he passed away in 2005 and she and I have both done our share of grieving. She stopped grooming for a while and her usually shiny, thick white mane stuck up in gray tufts all over, showing bare pink spots of her back. The vet said she was mourning. Hey, so was I but I couldn't stop washing my hair. We are now best buds and she is on my lap as I write this.

I realized, as I guess everyone who loses someone they love does eventually, that the sad moments come without any bidding so you need to notice the little joys in life and appreciate them as gifts. When I look at my two precious grandchildren who have never met their granddad, I try to focus on how blessed I am to have them. One of my goals in life is to keep a journal of stories about our family life as their dad and Aunt Keri were growing up.

I figure this way they will have some idea of the funny, loving family man who played Santa Claus every Christmas for a few years and who was their dad's best buddy almost all his life. I hope they will get a glimpse of how their daddy was a cute little boy who wore glasses and cried when he was told he didn't have to wear them anymore because I had told him he looked handsome in them, and who left handprints on ceilings because he was always practicing basketball jumps. I'm sure Eric will not want me to share some of my memories of his teenage years but we'll see about that when the time comes. Even grandmas need their private arsenals!

It's all part of a good life -- the funny memories and the sadness that he won't be physically in new ones but will always be a part of our family life. He still makes me laugh, even when I'm crying. Yes, that might be strange but what's a normal life without its quirks?

Whether it's a holly bush that blooms for the first time, or a baby who grins at you, or a beautiful crisp fall day that makes you glad to be alive, I hope you can laugh today even if there are a few tears.