HAVE YOURSELF A MESSY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

If you’re not feeling it, however, I understand. The holidays are rough.

Painful rifts mean family members aren’t talking. Traveling is miserable. Christmas carols are ridiculously cheerful. People can’t find work. Parts of the country are slammed with storms. Christmas just isn’t the same without family and friends who have passed. A mid-week Christmas means lots of people can’t travel home. Actively deployed service members are in harm’s way. Firefighters and police officers respond to fires and domestic disputes. Loved ones are sick, and hospitalized. If today or tomorrow is your day to receive chemo treatment, then you go to the clinic. Chronic pain sufferers wake up feeling lousy, as usual. Homeless people wake up homeless. People suffering from mental illness don’t get a reprieve. Christmas is messy.

Well, life is messy for 364 days of the year. It’s just not supposed to be messy on Christmas, right? We’ve bought into this myth big time; it’s what the ads show, and the Christmas movies, the cards, and the Christmas carols. But here’s the real news: Christmas day is messy, too. The tradition started off that way; Mary was an unwed, pregnant teen. She could have been stoned for this. Joseph married her, probably enduring ridicule. They traveled to Bethlehem. Now, all you moms out there, surely you remember what doing anything is like in your eighth and ninth month of pregnancy? It’s miserable. Whether or not the couple settled in a stable, or in somebody’s house, the point remains that they had to find somewhere to stay, and Mary gave birth away from home. It’s the Christmas story, and we are celebrating Christmas. And it’s messy.

The weather is crummy in some parts of the country, but nice in others. It’s summer south of the equator. Not all traveling compatriots make you want to scream; some people trade seats on the plane so you and your kids can sit together. The hospital and clinic staffs are cheerful. Transportation crews are working extended hours in lousy conditions, plowing, and re-wiring power lines. You don’t have to listen to chipper carols if you don’t want to, there’s plenty of Christmas music performed in the Blues style. Or you can choose to listen to Christmas music from another culture. Family members can pick up the phone, or email, Skype, or write a note, or light a candle in memory of a loved one, or just think about someone.

It’s Christmas. Mary nursed her baby, and she and Joseph provided the best home they could for their infant. They relied on strangers for help. They persevered, were resourceful, and probably found some humor in the situation. While “tenacity” may not be the word you hear in carols, it’s the real deal. Messy, but real.

Sending you my very best on this Messy Christmas, everybody.

Kathy Galgano

December 24, 2013

The Dreaded Holiday Letter

Dear Family and Friend,

Merry Christmas! I’ve noticed that over the years I send fewer of these letters out to my cherished loved ones; alas, time marches on and either those among us enter the world of the departed, or we just cut down on the toil and expense of the holidays and choose not to send cards and letters. Still, I offer you four remaining loved ones my greetings and best wishes.

It has been a delightful year with so many blessings. I just wrapped up (get it? Xmas wrap?) a big house project and I hope you come and visit! I insisted that the contractor entirely remove the old bathroom floor. Good thing! Those termites were such busy little beavers! I signed-up with one of those termite removal companies, and after eradicating the little beasts, the contractor finished up the work. The results are stunning! When you visit, I’ll turn on the towel rack warmer and the warmers in the floor for you. Even though I try not to use too much energy these days, you are a special guest and I’ll not think a moment of the electrical bill!

As I make preparations for Christmas, the nice young man from the termite company was just here. Too bad I didn’t have any cookies to give him. (I’ll be baking later today.)  Boy, I sure wish I had the patent on the old-fangled rat traps! With all the high-tech gadgets available, that spring-loaded trap is the best design for catching roof rats. This young man just grabbed the ladder in his truck, sprang up it just like St. Nick, and plucked a big fat rat out of the trap in the attic crawl space. My beloved Chihuahua, “Choppy,” was very curious! She yapped with excitement for hours! The winning trap had been baited with peanut butter and a bit of sugar. I’ve been humming “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the po-i-son go down!” all morning! It’s such a festive tune and puts me in the mood to do my baking!

My cranky achy back is so much better! I walk outside when I can, and try not to bother the neighbors to pick up my newspaper every morning. Oh! And I’ve become quite a shopper! I stumbled on a great two-for-one online deal in October. I redeemed the coupon at this little medical office. For the price of one injection, I received both my flu and pneumonia shots! How surprising that I was the only customer! I had to drive around to find the place, but it was worth the hunt! Oh, and I bought myself a new address book, too. My new one is sapphire blue and lovely; it has spaces for email, cell phone and web addresses in it. With so many cross-outs what with all the dead and non-correspondent relatives and friends, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the old one, and so I just deep-sixed it in the trash with the rat.

Do stop by for some homemade egg nog (I use pasteurized eggs so nobody gets dreadfully ill) and cookies. I can show you the crawl space where I expect to bag more furry critters in the coming months, plus the gorgeous remodel. Stay well, and I’ll email you the best of the online coupons.

All my love, and Merry Christmas!

Aunt Fenworthy

Kathy Galgano

December 20, 2013