A Short Holiday

We went on a brief holiday over the past four days. The more I am around people, the less I like them. Maybe it is because I am old, and I was raised with manners, expectations of certain social behaviors when in public, and on threat of perpetual grounding, expected the same from my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Things I witnessed this past week makes me wonder about the safety, sanity, and abilities of future generations.

Story One:

We were in the resort restaurant for the dinner buffet. The place was packed, as they usually are. After getting our Addie settled with her meal, I wandered off to check out the grown up menu. A woman pushed past me, and as she did I noticed she was wearing a bikini top and a pair of pajama bottoms with a pair of mukluk boots. Now, granted, we were at a place where the main attractions were the pools and slides, but at first glance she looked like she had jumped out of bed in her bra and pajamas to grab a meal. First of all, she was everything I hate in people. Loud, pushy, obnoxious, and demanding. Secondly, she was downright tacky. It is one thing to grab a snack in your swimsuit at the snack bar, but it is far different to turn up to dinner dressed like that. And don’t get me started on just how tacky it is for a grown woman to be running around in public in pajamas. How hard is it to throw on a pair of trousers or jeans, descent shoes and a top? I don’t even care if you need a bra and don’t wear one, but really, put some damned clothes on.

Story Two:

Same restaurant second day there. We were at the Breakfast buffet. (It’s cheaper and there are more choices.) I get in line behind a family of a mom with her two boys of about seven and nine. She is on her phone. The older boy grabs a plate and starts filling it with eggs. Four large serving spoons of scrambled eggs. Mom says nothing. He hits the bacon next. He scooped up no less than twelve pieces of bacon. Mom says, “Honey let me have some of that bacon.” She takes one piece off his plate. He dives back in and puts four or five more pieces on his plate and heads for the hash browns. By now the first plate is full. He gets a second plate, mind you he can come back for more. He fills the second plate with hash brown potatoes and covers them with gravy. Then hands the plates to his Mom, who takes them, and he heads to the cereal dispenser. He fills a bowl with Fruit Loops and milk and heads back to the table, where the server is setting down his hot chocolate and orange juice. Their table is right across from ours. Because I had never seen a skinny kid that age eat so much, I wanted to see what he would do. His mom nibbled her bacon and sipped on her coffee while she stayed on the phone. The boy ate a few bites of cereal, had a few sips of hot chocolate, and didn’t touch anything else. His mother never noticed. They got up and left and she was still on the phone. Someone needs a lesson on wasting food and greed. Oh, and on parenting.

Story Three:

We decided to take a drive up into the mountains to see the National Park. We went to a very cool place that has a drive through living history thing. That takes everyone to see the old settlement in the valley. It is about eleven miles round trip and there are loads of places to stop and take photos and go into the old buildings. We ended up behind a car with a family of five. Two parents, three kids. Like everyone, they had their windows down. Two of the kids, one on each side, were sitting on the window sill of the doors, hanging outside the car, leaning back as far as they could go. Granted, the speed limit was about ten miles an hour, but there were a lot of sudden stops as people would decide to leave the road and park to take photos etc. We followed them for about two miles, and ever single minute, I expected one or both of those kids to fall out of the car. I kept falling back as far as I could, terrified I would run one of them over after they hit the ground. Finally, they stopped and we got past them. About half a hour later they turned up at the ranger station. Someone called out to the woman in the car and asked her why she was allowing her kids to do something so dangerous. Her response had a lot of F words in it, and basically said it was no one’s business what she let her kids do. The first woman said it would be everyone’s business if one of those kids got hurt. More than a few folks agreed. The woman was on her phone and smoking her cigarette, the kids were running wild, trying to climb on everything they weren’t supposed to climb on, and she basically told everyone to go do something anatomically impossible. The dad never got out of the car or engaged with anyone. The rangers made the kids leave the exhibit after the two girls started fighting over stuff. Unbelievable.

Story Three:

Back at the restaurant the next day at lunch. Vastly busy. We were seated next to a table full of pre-teen boys between ten and twelve. There wasn’t a single parent near them. The tables were next to windows that looked out over the wave pool and water slides. Two of the boys turned around and were kneeling in their chairs backward. Then they started rocking them back on the legs and banging the backs of the chairs on the windows. I asked the wait staff if that was a good idea, the guy shrugged and said, “The windows are supposed to be break proof.” At my surprised look he said, “They’re being kids.” Then walked off. I called him back and asked to see a manager. I explained that all glass has a breaking point, all it takes is for the right amount of pressure to be applied at the right point. Even if it is shatter proof, it will crack, and sometimes it will fall from its frame causing the window to come crashing down and the kids could fall out of the window. She said she understood, but that they were not allowed to correct other people’s kids. So my husband got up and went over to the boys and said, “You know, banging into the windows might not be a good idea. If they break and you fall two stories to the walkway below, you could hurt yourselves. That would make the rest of your vacation suck.” They stopped, turned around and finished their meal and left. How hard was that? If you don’t say anything, kids will just keep on doing what they do until someone gets hurt. Especially boys that age who still haven’t learned to fear getting hurt.

Story Four:

Parents and phones. If you are going to spend upwards of three hundred dollars a day for a family to go on a holiday, why are you on your phone? It is supposed to be a FAMILY adventure. We saw kids from the age of three up doing their best to get their parents attention. The parents never put their damned phones down for a second. Two little girls about Addie’s age, somewhere between four and six were playing in the water right in front of their mommy. They were thrilled to get up the courage to go into the water up to their knees. They were having a great time, squealing and jumping around. “Mommy look! Mommy watch me! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!!” She had a phone in her hand, face buried in it. Not once did she look up, take a photo, or interact with them. It was no wonder that in minutes they were whining and crying. All they wanted was five seconds of Mommy’s time. That enraged me. Those poor kids. And it was like that everywhere we went at the resort. Parents on their phones, at the pool bar, ignoring their kids. Why the hell bother to take them anywhere if you aren’t going to enjoy time with them? I never took my phone out of the room while we were there. Neither did my husband. And Addie got every bit of attention she deserved.

Story Five:

I was waiting for the elevator to go to our room. Waiting with me was a mother and three teenage girls. The girls were surly and snarly. All of them complaining of different things. One in particular that I pegged around the age of fourteen was really snarky. The elevator comes and the doors open. Instead of allow the people on it to get off first, the mother and all three girls shoved their way on. The other family with four little children almost ended up with one child left behind. I got on just as the doors closed. The hateful girl sighed and rolled her eyes at me. When I asked if she could press the floor button for me since she was standing in front of the controls, she moved and snarled, “What am I, your slave?” I looked at her mother, she had her face buried in her phone. I pushed the button for my floor, then the brat stood back in front of the control panel and pushed down on her floor button. Her sister asked what she was doing and she said, “I don’t want to have to wait for anyone else to get on. Its and old fireman trick.” I said, “I don’t think that works on these new elevators, most of them require a key to make them stop working.” At that time we stopped. The people waiting were going down so didn’t get on. I didn’t say anything. We got to my floor. The girls piled off, I waited for the mother. She was still on her phone so I got off. I heard her say something, but didn’t understand her. I asked her what she said. She told me I was rude for not letting her get off with her daughters. I pointed out that the doors were getting ready to close so I kept them open so I could get off. She gave me a nasty look. So I said, “While your learning some manners of your own, why not teach some to your daughters as well. You aren’t the only people who are paying to stay here and we have just as much of a right to use the elevators as you and your daughters. If you don’t like people sharing the elevator, take the stairs.” I got the expected F word response. It wasn’t worth my time to deal with her idiocy. I figured she would get her karma response in dealing with those hateful girls of hers.

Story Six:

We had a great time. Addie loved everything from the swimming and wave pools and slides, to painting ceramics with me, and doing sand art with her Papa. She loved the ranger station where they helped her learn the life cycle of moths and butterflies, and she got a Junior Ranger Award for answering all the questions correctly afterwards. She got to have Old Time photographs with fancy costumes along with her Papa, and she ate at a real diner for the first time. We all stayed up too late, ate too much, and wore ourselves to a frazzle. It was too bad so many other kids weren’t having fun with their parents or grandparents, and so many parents were acting annoyed to be there. Addie was in her element as the center of our attention, and the one melt down she had was quickly under control because a time out sitting in the middle of Nana’s bed with nothing to do is no fun. Next holiday, I think we need to go somewhere that has a lot fewer people and a lot more nature.


A Blank Page

There is something about a blank page that bugs me. It doesn’t matter if it is on my computer screen or a real piece of paper, it screams out for something, anything, to be written or drawn on it to make it unique.

When my kids were little, paper was a way to keep them entertained for all of two minutes while I made a bathroom stop. A notebook and pencil in my purse or diaper bag was a must to hold off boredom in places like restaurants and church. As they got older, we used paper and pencils to write words, and draw pictures to go with them. Sometimes, if we were in an appropriate, and sometimes not appropriate, place we would make paper airplanes, or fans, or anything we could by folding paper. It was a useful tool.

Then, when my kids were teenagers, before we all had text messaging, they left me notes on the fridge, the front door, in my car, and sometimes, on me, to remind me of things they needed or places they needed to be. I did the same for them and for my husband. Notes became an every day way of communicating in a busy teenage household.

But always, through the years, writing down my life was a part of my daily routine. I filled pages of paper in journals telling my story. Then I started writing down imaginary stories, always trying to write something that would teach, lead, or entertain others. I wrote letters, by hand, and notes saying Thank You, or You Are Invited To An Event, to others. I wrote love letters to my husband, and letters of appreciation and admonition to my children and grandchildren. I wrote the histories of my ancestors, and reams of papers for college courses.

Today, I still write every day. Sometimes it is just a blog, sometimes I work on a book or a short story, sometimes I just write an email, a response on social media, or to my elected officials. Like reading every day, writing is as much a part of my life as breathing. I can’t imagine being unable to do either.

So, today, when I was faced with a blank page, I thought about how important it is to write things down. Because once you are gone, and your children are gone, who will remember what you said, how you though, or the feelings that filled your life? This is your chance to put down the words that mean something to you. This is your time to tell your own story, opine on your ideas and dreams, and your time to say what you really think about any and every subject that comes to mind.

Every personal story is important. Without personal accounts of events, real history will be lost to the ages. All that will be left is what the professional politicians had to say, or the media of the day had to say, not what every day people had to say about a moment in time. Daily grind events are just as important as life changing events. And in the future, some many times great grandchild will sit in wonder reading what you really thought, did, or felt in your life. It will amaze, thrill, and surprise them with the turn of every page. Write it down. Inquiring minds will want to know.

A blank page is an opportunity. Don’t waste it.



If they can climb it,

jump on it,

stomp in it,

roll on it,

swing on it,

and even better, jump off it,

they love whatever it is.

If it gets them dirty,




or even better, muddy,

they want it.

If they can eat it,

drink it,

throw it,

smear it,

and it still tastes good,

they will take it.

If they can yell,





and be loud,

they say it.


Not your cream puff video game players,


Learning to be men by doing, playing, coping, challenging.


Hard to raise, harder to let go of.


Pride, honor, dignity,



Living in Her World

She lives in a world of princess dolls, tea sets, and toy horses, each enhanced with her imagination into a fantasy world of unending play and drama. She has deep conversations and interaction between her dolls and horses, and a tea party will include every toy she can find and her grandfather. She dances, prances, twirls, all in her tutu of the day – without an ounce of self conscious behavior.

In her world, everyone is expected to understand the rules that she sets forth and changes from moment to moment. It is her world after all. Her princesses posture, argue, share, and talk for hours, just like people in the grown up world. However, it is all driven by the imagination, intelligence, and curiosity of a four year old girl. When I over hear her say something that sound remarkably like something I have said to her, or her Mommy has said, it makes me smile. There are time she sounds amazingly mature, and other times it is clear she is fully engrossed in some magical moment of discovery.

In her world, her teddy bear, toy cat, and prized princess horse can have an intense conversation over pretend tea and cookies, while her imaginary sisters squabble in the background. I don’t know how she keeps the story lines straight. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because it is her world and subject to change without notice. And, like it or not, those of us on the peripheral are involved when we are needed to further the narrative.

Living in her world includes frequent costume changes, and requires a fashion show for each change. Sometimes it requires a new way of doing up her hair, different shoes, and a full change from the skin out. She dances her way through the day, fully aware of her beauty, and proud of her ability to be a princess one moment and a baby the next.

In her world, where she displays supreme self confidence and control, she has no fear, except a fear of the dark. She faces monsters, outrageous characters, stubborn dolls, and the occasional grumpy horse that needs a talking to. She laughs and dances through the story, the moment, the magic. And, at the end of her day, she crawls into her Papa’s lap, asking for a story to go to sleep by. Then, the next day, that story finds its way into her world, continuing on in her imagination.

Living in her world is a delight, a blessing, and an unending adventure. Her favorite living companion is her Papa, who willingly joins her world, and deeply misses her when she is away. We are old, she is young, but with her in our lives, in our hearts, we have learned to play again. Time to go see what is next, a tea party or a pretend trip to the barn. Either way, we will be in her world, and it will be an adventure worth remembering.


That’s How We Roll

The Mr. and I went to our standby comfort food restaurant for dinner. I didn’t want to cook, neither did he, such as he can. Dinner was filling, and if you get the chance, have the yummy pumpkin custard at the Cracker Barrel near you.

We were, as usual, discussing issues in the news and politics while eating dinner. It occurred to me that I am surprised some nitwit leftist hasn’t started opposing the name of the restaurant yet. After all, it is a Southern company, started in Lebanon, Tennessee. And the folks who own it are white. Ergo, it must be owned by white redneck extremists – also known by the derogative term “crackers.”

Therefore, in leftist think, they must be racists, as all Southern whites are by association . Yep, must change the name, I can hear the hue and cry going out amongst those with nothing better to do than take stupid to the farthest degree possible.

Trouble is, that sort of mentality fails here. As we sat there enjoying our meal, only four other tables were full. At one table was another senior couple, farmers from the cut of his clothes and his farmers tan. The Mr. and I represented the Indians in the room. Next to them was a man and a woman, she was black, he was white. Next to them was a table with two men, one black, one white. The server on our side of the room was white, and the server on the other side of the room was black. The cashier was white, but the greeter lady was black, and the cook in the back was white, but the guy busing the tables was black. So, I guess folks of all backgrounds were represented. As it generally is down here in the South.

Now, I don’t live in the southeastern part of the Southern states, I live in the mid-southern/ deep south state of Mississippi, right at the very northern edge of the state next to Memphis, Tennessee. So, maybe it is different here when it comes to blacks and whites than it is in other southern states. I’ve lived here ten years, and I have never had an issue with anyone due to my skin color (which changes from pink to medium brown depending on how much sun I get). As a matter of face, I grew up in the military where segregation ended long before it ended in the rest of the country. I’ve always gone to school with people of different colors, backgrounds, and lifestyles. So pardon me if all I do is shrug when leftists get their knickers in a twist over race issues.

When I look at the demographics for those who are screaming racism, generally it is from folks on the east or west coast, or places like Chicago. Mostly, though, it comes from young people who haven’t a clue what racism is really like. So, why aren’t all the folks in the deep south marching and breaking things? Well, most of them are too busy working and taking care of their families. Except, of course, for those with nothing better to do than make up offenses to have tantrums over. By and large, most of the BLM morons around here are just that, ghetto morons who are uneducated, unemployed, and unhappy because they don’t get everything they want on a platter. Ditto the ANTIFA – yawn – pampered leftist babies of the rich. Regular folks are too busy to waste time with stupidity like that.

Instead of breaking things and marching around trying to rile each other up, they are in church on Wednesday and Sunday, coaching kids in sports, taking kids to lessons or dance, or horse riding. Spending time as a family, often extended family – especially down here in the South, family is a big deal, or they are helping those less fortunate. And maybe, like the Mr. and I, they just like to be at home relaxing at the end of a hectic day.

My point is that I simply cannot fathom having the luxury of time that it takes to be out acting up and breaking things all in the name of faux freak-out issues. Only those with no responsibilities, jobs, school, or future plans have that sort of luxury. Most young people I know are working and going to college, working and raising families, or they are military and working to protect the rights of the whiny leftists rear ends who insult them every chance they get. I don’t live in a racist community, I live in a diverse community of folks with kids, dogs, and lifestyles devoted to bettering themselves and their kids. We have old folks, young folks, teenagers, and babies. We are just people. And that’s how we roll in the mid-south.


Kindness Is NOT A Muscle!

Since we have had a four year old with us all summer, I have had the television on a channel she loves called Sprout during rest time after lunch. (We no longer call it nap time… melt down will ensue.) They have a theme going this summer about kindness.

Basically a good idea to teach about kindness. But they have the jingle they keep using that drives me nuts. “Kindness is a muscle.” Now, anyone who has raised young children know that between the ages of two to about six, everything they hear is taken literally. Sprout is designed for that age group. It didn’t take long for Addie to ask me which muscle on her body was her kindness muscle. (Picture me banging my head on the keyboard.)

So, I had to sit down with her and explain that there isn’t a muscle that makes you kind. Kindness is an act or a behavior that is brought on by compassion, love, and the way you are taught to treat others. It is something that is in your brain and emotions. Some people say from the heart, but that is even more confusing, so we left that for later. She got the concept, after several attempts to explain the kindness muscle.

Then the oddest thing happened, she decided that Sprout was lying to her, and that really ticked her off because she knows that lying is a VERY bad thing. It is unkind, and mean. (Okay, we are really strong about honesty in our house, deal with it.) It was good that she was able to grab the concept of kindness, and it was good that she was able to have an out let for her anger. When she hears that jingle, she gets in front of the television and shouts, “Kindness is NOT a muscles. You nitwit, Kindness is an ACTION!” (Nitwit is an acceptable word in our home too.)

Why an organization like Sprout, who is supposed to understand children who see the world literally would promote an out right lie is beyond me. That means parents who give a flip have to undo the confusion and help kids understand that to some people it isn’t a lie because they see an action as using some sort of muscle. Then explaining that you don’t know why they would say something so wrong, but that people are different and see the world differently. Not two to six year old kids, the world is literal, black and white, and straight forward.

Sprout shows are now recorded, after all, what would life be without Topsy and Time, Sarah and Duck, and Noddy? At least we can fast forward past the inane commercials and PSA nonsense. Back in the dark ages of television, we had Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans to explain our complicated world (rabbit is still a carrot stealing rascal). Life was so much easier then. No complex issues past learning to share and being good to others. I am so glad our little Addie Rose would rather read a book, paint a picture, or just play tea party, than sit in front of the television.

We only have her for one more week before we go back to seeing her every other weekend. I think we will just play all week long, to heck with television and nap… ahem… REST time!



Brain Drain

I found the Mr. standing in the middle of the kitchen staring into space. Like many of us, he forgot why he came into the room once he got there. This made me start thinking about how long I had been doing the same thing as I had a niggling worry deep inside about going senile. And I think I nailed down the problem that leads us to forgetting things.


Think about it. Before kids, we generally cruise along in life fighting the battled of becoming an adult. Sure, we forget to do things now and then, but the majority of the time we are sailing along just fine. Then it hits women first when they get pregnant. Baby brain slowly creeps in but we cope with it, after all baby will come along soon and it will all change. Our husbands, partners, whatever, get upset with our baby brain moments, but generally just laugh at us.

Then baby comes along. And so does a complete lack of sleep, organization, and ability to think. New parents are so tired that sleep is more important than showers, food, or even sex. That is when true forgetfulness strikes both parents hard. The slow unraveling begins. Even after the baby sleeps through the night, starts walking, potty trains, and talks, the brain begins to drop bit and pieces everywhere.

OK, kids get old enough to go to school, most folks have several by then, and are pretty oblivious to the brain drain taking place. Mom and dad start making notes and keeping calendars to stay on track, Kids have school, sports, play dates (as silly as that sounds), and there are a multitude of other activities from school plays to family dinners. And the brain just keeps dripping cells everywhere.

By now the parents are in their forties. Kids are driving themselves and creating a life of their own, soon they will be off to college or working (hopefully), and the house gets less hectic. The only calendar kept is one for doctor appointments and such. Until, one day, the house is empty and a couple is alone again. And that is when the final event hits, the memory wall.

We forget what we were saying mid conversation. We forget where we put our glasses Every. Single. Day. We forget our car keys, our wallets, and where we took off our shoes. We double check to see if we fed the dog and if we left water out for the cat. We have to go see if we locked the car door, and we always have to make sure where we put the credit card after using it. But mostly, we can’t go from one room to the next without forgetting what we were going to do when we got there.

Sometimes, we stare in the refrigerator thinking that’s why we are in the kitchen. Or, we go into a room four times before we get what we came for, because we get distracted by something else, and walk out of the room without the one thing we needed.

By the time we get to retirement age, we start reminding each other about things before going out the door. We do a check list, wallet, keys, glasses, hat, sunglasses, cell phone, and most importantly the list of things to get done or for shopping. Oh, and don’t forget each other while you are out.

So, yep, it is all because we have kids. Those that don’t have kids, have extended family, friends, and pets to help drain our brains as we age. Therefore, it doesn’t help not to have kids.

Next time you are standing in the middle of a room and forget why you are standing there, remember to blame it on the kids. And watch your own kids start down the same road with their kids and laugh. Then spoil your grandchildren and sent them home, just to get even.


Twenty Senior Moment Thoughts

  1. The moments after you wake up and nothing hurts, and suddenly you think you might be dead.
  2. You can’t argue with someone who doesn’t have on his hear aids.
  3. Telling your grandchildren how things used to work in your world compared to their world leaves them thinking you are either a liar, or crazy.
  4. Food isn’t nearly as interesting as it used to be, especially if you have to do the cooking.
  5. Getting to the the bathroom and back in the middle of the night without hurting yourself, tripping on a pet or shoes, or stubbing your toe on the bed frame is considered a victory.
  6. Taking a shower without someone else in the house to help if you fall is a daring thing.
  7. Running is not an option. Don’t care how big and scary it is. Not happening.
  8. No one cares if you suck in your stomach, because people actually look at your face to see if you can their read lips.
  9. You can say anything you want, no one dares take on the ticked off old lady.
  10. If you have your walker with you, people let you go to the front of the line. Really. They do.
  11. You can tell other people’s bratty kids to stop behaving like a brat. It scares the crap out of the kids, and embarrasses the parents.
  12. When someone young complains about how hard life is, you can mock them by telling them, “Child, you have NO idea how hard life can really be.”
  13. Going out means going to the grocery or out to eat so you don’t starve. Otherwise, why bother.
  14. Music from your era is now elevator music. Scary to hear “Taking Care of Business” played with violins and muted horns. Very scary.
  15. It is easier to relate to old people. I mean really old people, like your parents old.
  16. It is harder to relate to your grandchildren or great grandchildren because, well, they just don’t get interpersonal relationships. They have techno friends instead.
  17. Language doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Slang has evolved into everyday speech, and proper English has disappeared in conversations.
  18. Try explaining how short cut words and TEXT speech are impossible to say out loud, do it often enough that it drives kids nuts. R U does not spell ARE YOU. Really, it doesn’t.
  19. It no longer matters if you wear pajamas all day long. It is just practice for the day you are in a nursing home or left at the funny farm.
  20. Being grumpy and ticked off is the best way to get your daily aerobic exercise for your heart. Less sweaty too.

I Will NOT Feel Guilty About Christmas Gifts.

I saw a meme on Facebook today that left me speechless, for all of four seconds, then I was totally ticked off. I do NOT like it when people try to manipulate me in any way, and this was exactly what the meme was trying to do.

Basically, it calls people on the carpet for buying nice gifts for their children and labeling them from Santa Claus. Because, after all, some other child might not get anything as nice as a laptop or phone, they may only get gloves and a scarf or something less expensive from the man in red. Therefore, those of us who give our kids something from ‘Santa’ that is more expensive will cause hurt feelings if they share what they got with those less fortunate. In other words, we have to limit what we spend on our kids, or we are guilty of flaunting our wealth, and that makes us evil people.

Quite frankly, that is a load of bull$*(*#!!! If you have kids young enough to believe in Santa, they won’t give a flip how expensive the gift is, because it will be from Santa! That is all that matters. If they are old enough to know the cruel truth of who bought them the gift, then they won’t be upset because it will be from you no matter what name is on the package. Sometimes the logic of the knee jerk emotional response people baffles me. No, the logic of such people always baffles me.

Why would it be my responsibility how your child reacts to what my child receives for Christmas or any other time a gift is offered? I don’t expect you to buy your children’s gifts based on my income or what my child might want. It is utterly ludicrous to suppose that anyone should be involved in gift giving between myself, my children or grandchildren but us.

Everyone knows Christmas comes around every December 25th. Everyone knows that we give gifts to one another in remembrance of the gift we received from God in the Savior, and in the gifts the Magi gave to the Christ child. We know it is coming all year long. I do not understand why everyone waits until the last possible minute to recognize the expense, whether in dollars or time and effort, that will be added to the budget. So let me explain how we do things.

In January, I take my empty Christmas money jar, and start putting back as much as I can from my budget. Some months it is more, some less. I have a goal of one hundred dollars per child or grandchild, a bit less for the babies as they are happy with wrapping paper and boxes until about the age if two. I also factor in things like baking goods, baskets, and wrapping paper to the fund. As I save each month, I start a file from each kid or grandchild about the things that they are interested or would like to have. It gives me a bare bones budget from which to work.

Around the end of October, I start shopping in earnest. I look for sales, coupons, two for one sales, any way to save money and still buy them what they want. It doesn’t matter if it comes from Santa or me, each gift is carefully chosen and paid for with CASH. No debt here, thank you very much. By Christmas, I have spent my savings, prepared goodie baskets for my friends and neighbors, wrapped all the gifts, and have everything set for a family dinner.

Even on a limited income, this can work as long as you are diligent about saving and keeping the funds for Christmas. The trick is to be determined not to waste the funds on other things. If it is in the Christmas jar, nothing short of a life and death situation will get it out of the jar before Christmas. My point is, that anyone can give their children nice things, if they want to work hard enough for it.

Sure I will go without other things, and maybe I won’t have that extra whatever I wanted, but at the end of the day, did I really need it? How many pairs of shoes, or handbags, or goodies does one need to be healthy? Not too many. I would rather see my granddaughter’s face light up with joy at her “Santa” present, or have a heart felt hug from my son for the item he has wanted for a long time, but didn’t want to spend money on with a family to feed.

So, back to the meme, get over it people. No one is responsible for your family but you. My family comes first, and what I have left over, I share willingly and for as far as I can stretch it. Maybe it will only be a basket of Christmas cookies and muffins, but it is given with love and appreciation to my friends and family.

Don’t try to manipulate or guilt people into shame for doing well, working hard, and giving generously, be it from “Santa” or from Nana and Papa. It makes you look inept, immature, and impractical. It used to be people stood up for themselves, they didn’t expect everyone else to feel sorry for them and make life easy. Be honest with your children. They aren’t stupid, they know if you are wealthy or if you are barely making it. So, work hard, save hard, give with love, and teach your children to do the same.


How Did I Get So Old So Darned Fast?

Today I turned 62 years old. I think that qualifies me as older than dirt. I know it qualifies me as a senior citizen. What I want to know is how it happened so darned fast. Just a few weeks ago, I swear I was trying to figure out the whole concept of being an adult.

When I turned nine, I remember it well, because my parents gave me a copy of Huckleberry Finn. The first real book I remember ever getting. I still have it. And I took time to re-read it not too long ago. When I turned 17, I was a married woman of a whole three months. I remember thinking I had it all, and knew it all, and wasn’t afraid to face everything life would throw at me. I was a grown woman, and by heaven I knew it all. Arrogance knows no bounds to a 17 year old.

When I turned 20, I had a three month old son, he was taking me down a peg or two in arrogance, and teaching me that being a grown woman was harder than it looked. Being a mother certainly was harder. Little did I know that by the time I turned 22, I would have a second baby boy and life was set on fast forward for the next twenty years or so.

I don’t remember many spectacular birthdays. They seem to blend together. However, I remember when I turned 30, my two best friends kidnapped me, drove me all over Harrison, Arkansas for a few hours, then took me out to eat at a steak place. When I walked in, almost the entire church ward, most of my Boy Scout Leader friends, and many others turned up for a surprise party. I was totally shocked. Not a clue slipped out from anyone. Back then, there were no cell phones, so no one was able to tip me about the kidnapping or anything. It was great! I was fully embarrassed, but it was the slickest thing anyone has ever pulled on me. Candy, and Edie Mae , I have not forgotten, and I will get even one day.

The best gifts my husband gave to me are: The Elton John Concert in Hong Kong, The Michael Buble concert in Memphis, and my beautiful blue Honda Del Sol sports car, I call Posh. Treasured memories, and one of the most fun toys I have EVER had.

Once our boys moved out and on with their lives, and we got custody of Crystal, we decided to move to Europe, and then around the world, using employment opportunities to set off on our next adventure. When it was time to move on to the next new home, it was always on my birthday. We were either moving into a place, or packing to move out of a place – or in accommodations between places. Since it was either a sad time, or an exciting time, there was never time to pay much attention to celebration. One exception, however, was when we were living in Hong Kong. The other moms with children Crystal’s age who attended the same international school as Crystal took me to lunch. It was a fabulous time, and each gift is still something I use today, or wear today. They are part of my treasure horde. Of course, tea in the plaza after school every day was special too. Sigh, I miss you all.

I guess I was busy having a life, and simply didn’t notice time sneaking past at such a rapid rate. Technology has overtaken the simple pleasures, and I miss that. I miss being the mom of growing boys (before teenage hell set in). I miss the summers at the swimming hole with Edie Mae and her girls, and Candy and her boys along with me and my kids. I miss the Plaza with the ladies there and their kids, I miss the women in London and Nottingham, and I miss the dear friends in New Zealand, especially Leah who was more than willing to give me a kick in the attitude when I needed one most. I miss being young and strong physically even if I am old and stronger emotionally and have more wisdom.

The older I get, the less it matters if we celebrate my birthday or not. It is a day I do a lot of reflection on my life. Since it is so close to Christmas, and the anniversary of my baptismal date this month, there always seems to be more important things to focus on. Especially, for me, spiritual matters.

But I still don’t understand how I got from 22 to 62 so darned fast! The upside, is now I have grandchildren, and great grandchildren to love and spoil. I have a husband of 45 years, who has grown up and old with me. And who can still carry on a conversation and debate over all sorts of interesting topics with me, Who still, after all this time, wants to have adventures with me. So, I guess the real trade off of getting old, is that I have had a great life, get to do so much more, and know that life is still full of adventures.