Sunday, November 27, 2011


I've always claimed that I am not a pet person. That I don't REALLY like animals. That my life would be fine if I didn't know a cat or a dog, or a bird or a rat. But truly, at the core, I have a lot of affection for (cetain) animals.

When I was a little girl (cue the sappy music) my family had a dog named Spirit. I think he was some sort of mutt - kinda of a poodle. Truthfully, I really can't remember him - I've seen pictures of Spirit that were taken during camping trips with our family, but I'm not sure I can recall playing with him. What I do remember is that one day he was a part of our family - then the next day he was gone. I do recall coming home from school one day to find out that Spirit was gone - my mom and dad said they had given him away to a family that lived out in the county. My mom said that kids were always teasing him from the alley behind our house so she decided that he would be better off living with a family out in the country where he could run and play.

Honestly . . . I didn't believe it. I thought that my mom had just gotten tired of the dog and had sent it to the pound. We never talked about it again. And, how do you miss a dog you don't even remember playing with? But, I do remember being sad, a lingering sadness, that I hadn't gotten a chance to say goodbye.

As I have gotten older and become a mom (cue more sappy music) I have come to appreciate and need animal friends. Our golden retriever came into our lives as a stray dog - and he has stayed. He is the sweetest, most loyal and calm dog - and some days I forget to appreciate what a great pet he is.

We have also aquired a series of cats. First came Midnight, a male black cat we adopted from the pound four years ago - he is still with us and is hands down the coolest cat ever. We adopted him for mouse control - we love him for his cat antics. Then came Emily, who was run over by a car in the driveway. Then NeNe, who disappeared - but my daughter is sure she is living across the road. Hubby and I know that she was actually hit and killed by a car. Then came Jenny who was a great kitty and birthed a delightful litter of kittens. My kiddos loved Jenny and the kittens - and then we gave some of them up for adoption. All but Croon, Jenny's daughter. Then . . . Jenny disappeared over Labor Day weekend. So, we still have Croon and adopted two new kitties, Whisper and Captain Jack Sparrow - thankfully, they are still with us.

But . . . truth be told, the reason I have been crying since Friday is that on November 2nd we were fortunate enough to be gifted the sweetest dog ever - Wiggle Rum Tow Mater. He was intended to be a birthday gift for my son's 10th birthday - but our entire family fell in love with him! He was spirited and affectionate and loved to give kisses and jump up on our beds. He didn't have a tail - he just wiggled his rump - about 100 times per day. He loved belly rubs and conversations and soccer games and walks. He only lived with us for a few short weeks - but we knew we couldn't imagine life without him. Until . . . he was struck by a car and died a short time later on Friday. We didn't find out his fate until late afternoon on Saturday - after many frantic hours and phone calls searching for him. He is now gone forever. I told my kids the truth about what happened. They are sad he is gone. They are even more sad that they never had the chance to say goodbye.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks for Giving

We had a really great Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Just us. With some food. No guests, not a lot of activity. Just food. Simple, yet really perfect. We talked about what we are all thankful for.

We usually travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, mostly to visit family in Montana. While we really enjoy visiting, this year the trip just seemed like too much. I haven't been feeling good, things with our fave teenager daughter aren't great - and we just wanted to be home. With our family. Appreciating one another. Quietly, peacefully. And, for the day we had I am thankful.

We didn't roast a turkey. Mainly because the sight of the 30 pound turkey in my neighbor's refridge was startling - and quite frankly ugly. Okay, not entirely true, even before I caught a glimpse of the ugly turkey we had decided to make something different. But, let me tell you - that turkey really was ugly! Yes, I do know where turkeys come from - but I only like the pretty ones, like the ones my friend Nancy sends to the turkey spa.

With the help of my favorite cookbook (Thanks to Ree Drummond, we began our day with maple glazed cinnamon rolls. Then, for dinner we had roasted beef tenderloin, butternut squash, oven roasted potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and burgandy mushrooms. Chocolate cream pie and pumpkin pie rounded out our meal - I have to tell you that hubby fell asleep on the couch within minutes of ingesting this meal. It was different and non-traditional and yummy!

So yes, we missed our travel to Montana, and we missed you: Mom and Dad, Helen and Gary, Leonard and Carol, Susan and kids. And we hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Musing about Christmas

It seems like everywhere I turn these days Christmas has already arrived. The stores are full of decorations and toys and gift ideas . . . . I confess I feel overwhelmed. Magazines are full of gift ideas. My kids come home from school everyday with some type of Christmas benefit we could/should contribute to. While I admit to a certain love of Christmas music - and I would listen to it all year long if my family would let me, and must also admit that I'm kind of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas.

The power of marketing behind Christmas is poisonous, it lets the media and the stores have the last say in what our holiday should look like - without giving us room to breathe, to think, to reflect about what Christmas could mean without all the hoopla.

Some of my friends are all to familiar with my rants about how our community goes all out to care about the needy children/homeless families and the hungry during the holiday season. Don't get me wrong - I agree that hungry, homeless people need help from the community - I just feel that that help should be freely given all year long - not just during the holidays.

I do think the holiday season is a bit magical. Twinkling lights, the promise of gifts to be unwrapped. The smell of the pine tree, all of the cute handmade ornaments. I love to bake during the holidays - the kinds of treats we only make once a year. I love to see the snow fall on Christmas Eve. I can remember the excitement of Christmas when I was a kid. I get it, really I do.

Except, I can't help but think what would happen if we only celebrated Christmas for the month of December. If no one bought presents before then. Or mailed their Christmas cards. Or decorated their homes or stores. Would we run out of time to find the perfect gift, the perfect tree? Would I appreciate Christmas music more because my time to enjoy it was fleeting?

I know, I know. Many of you are shaking you heads at me. How could you possible make Christmas perfect in only 25 days? Maybe we can't. Maybe, rather than searching for the perfect gift, the perfect tree, the perfect tradition, the perfect holiday - we would be left with our imperfect selves. Would we have to give more of ourselves to our friends and family because we couldn't buy the perfect holiday? Would we really get to know one another, warts and all? Would we spend more time laughing and loving and sharing because we weren't worried about the money we weren't spending? Would we reach out to our community because we weren't so busy shopping and wrapping and trying to by each other's affections? Would January 1st be happier without the thought of the credit card bill arriving in the mail?

Christmas probably wouldn't be perfect - but I'm not sure we should expect it to be. Gifts given and received should be done joyfully, from the heart. I can't wait for December 1st!