“Better be nice! Santa’s coming to town.“
Doug the human is resistant to the notion that the only appropriate Christmas greeting is “Merry Christmas“, and he prefers and uses “Wishing you a blessed Christmas“.
merry = cheerful and lively;
blessed = made holy; consecrated.
Seriously, which word better defines the significance of the birth of the Christ Child? Make your choice but consider this: the commercialism of Christmas is the war on this holy day, not some catch phrase you don’t like as well as another.
No, not Andy and Dougy (though they do wish you a blessed Christmas), but from my friend Deborah’s Charles and André, here in a holiday photo slide show.
Deborah assures me Charles enjoys dressing up, and that he purrs while in costume. On the other hand, Dougy and Andy prefer to walk around in their birthday suits!
Even though Charles no longer meows for Serena, I am sure he still misses her. Both boys have been eating a lot more of late, even demanding to be fed three times two days ago. As long as Charles does not get too big, I guess it is OK. Everyone seems to be more hungry on winter days.
We’ve had a lot more chases and playtime of late and they both demand more affection. I hope they are not feeling I might disappear them too and they better stay on my good side.
I decided to give them a little excitement so I cut down a small fir in the yard that I would have pruned next spring anyway, stuck it in a pot of geranium that has somehow survived the frosts to date, bought a few ornaments and voilà! We have a Christmas tree for the first time in years if not decades. It helps that the tree is free and would have been sacrificed anyway come spring and that I had a few ornaments in storage already. André has already started batting at them from the arm of the sofa, but having lined the pot with pine cones I hope they will stay out of it. Yeah, right.
Well they do like it when I change things up so they were pretty excited.
I don’t know how you feel about dressing cats up. I remember Louie wears a cape. I have been an offender since I was a young girl on that score. Not every day or anything. I found this Santa outfit in a thrift store earlier this year and took it out today. Boy did I underestimate how big Charles is! Maybe it will fit the squirrel who lives under the porch!
Now that our Christmas decorations are finished, we can relax and enjoy the rest of the month.
There’s still some snow on the ground, with a 40% chance of more this morning and tonight, but as the Italian proverb states, “A thousand probabilities don’t make one fact.” In the meantime, we have old snow from an earlier storm, and it’s a bit melted.
It’s difficult to get into the Christmas mood when advertisers have bombarded me with Christmas since before Halloween. It doesn’t help, either, that it’s supposed to be between 55°F-65˜F (13°C-18°C) during the day (sun promised!) the rest of the week. Yet, the inexorable march toward that holiday goes on.
One of these days, I’ll wake up, and…”AIYEEE! Christmas!” Um, it’s the 10th of December and I haven’t sent one card. I use the cats as my excuse not to put up decorations, let alone a tree full of “cat toys”. I better get with it.
The arrival of the Christmas stamps means I can’t put off writing cards any longer. Well, I can, but I better not! (By the way, this may be the closest I get to wishing you a blessed Christmas. Bah!)
Last year this time I was in bed, very sick.
The week of Thanksgiving, I ate some something like crackers in the morning on Monday, and was bed-ridden till Thanksgiving afternoon, when I ate something else like crackers. I dropped several pounds.
That week was a mess, mostly spent sleeping, with short breaks to get up to feed and water Andy and Dougy. During that time, the boys stopped by to hop on my bed to see how I was doing or just left a toy by my bed, hoping I’d play. I was very touched.
Christmas wasn’t any joy, either, as my mother entered the hospital around the 10th of December. I was too sick myself to go see her, didn’t find out she was in the hospital, in fact, until a couple days after she was taken up there. I stopped by the care center to visit her, and found out she was hospitalized.
Because of my own illness, perhaps illnesses, that began in October and lasted until mid-December, I was physically weak. I didn’t know if I had the strength to make it from the hospital parking lot to my mother’s room. I made it, only after a couple stops in the hallway to rest and get my breath.
I arrived at the door into the patient ward, and found I had to wear a surgical mask and disinfect my hands to visit Mom. She was out of it when I arrived, struggling through a reaction to an antibiotic given to deal with an infection that ultimately contributed to her death.
Each day I went up to the hospital, as my own health and weather allowed, Mom was either sleeping, incoherent, or weak and normal, depending on the infection and her reactions to one of three antibiotics she was given at different times. Her doctor and the ward nurses kept me informed of how she was and why. I called my brother and sisters each time there was significant change in her condition, and we prepared as best we could for what would be.
It was grueling, hope one day, mentally planning for a call telling me she died the next.
Mom’s birthday was the 24th of February. Knowing how ill she was and given her age, my siblings and I decided to get together for her birthday on February 24, 2013, either to celebrate her 98th year of life or to celebrate the life she had in a memorial service.
The day she was taken to the regional hospital in Scottsbluff, I ran into her doctor in the hallway. I’d had a call from the hospital early in the morning (which I didn’t hear, but learned of in my messages). Her doctor had had to restart her heart during the night. He told me when Mom came to, she told him she didn’t want him to do that again.
That Mom felt that way was no surprise to me as she’d told me months earlier when she was in decent shape that that was her wish: Do Not Resuscitate.
I arrived moments before the ambulance to take her to Scottsbluff arrived, just long enough to let her know that we kids loved her, that I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it down there but would try, and I had her wedding and engagement ring at home. They’d taken the rings off her finger because of swelling and the fear they’d have to cut them off if the swelling got too bad. The attendant came in the room, and it was time to throw Mom a last kiss. She nodded in acknowledgement.
The doctor there assured me Mom was out of it most of the time because of a reaction to the antibiotic again.
The morning of January 5, 2013, a short time after Mom was transported to Scottsbluff, I got that call I knew was coming at 4:00 AM. Mom died that night, before I made it down for a visit.
I don’t regret anything. You can’t change what’s happened or what hasn’t happened, so there’s no point stewing about that. Yet, I wish, sometimes, I hadn’t had so much sick time in October through December so I could have spent more time with Mom before she died.
A postscript to this: I called my siblings. We did get together for Mom’s 98th birthday, February 24th, a celebration of her life and not of one more birthday added to her total lifetime. She asked to be cremated. The wedding and engagement rings were sealed in the urn with her ashes.
I spent a lot of January putting together a memorial video, using photos my Seattle sister and I had of Mom and her life, a video of Mom singing, and “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. (Mom was very proud of her Scottish heritage.) In just under eight minutes, it served as our contribution to Mom’s memorial service since none of my siblings nor I felt we would be able to stand up and speak about Mom.
People ask me, “Doug, what exactly was it you did at the factory before you retired? The answer is more difficult than the job I did. I analyzed data “and stuff”! I made charts that no one used, it turned out, but that would have been of great value had they taken the time to look at them.
Anyway, I created this one last chart showing my finances in vague and altered form to foil the math-proficient. Hee! Hee!
Half of this year, I was dealing with BlueCross BlueShield to re-establish health insurance. I DO have it again, at a cost of nearly 50% of my income! God love AMERICA! On December 15th, BC BS will debit my account for four months’ insurance. At once. To the tune of significantly over $4000. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
When it became clear that the debit would happen, of course, I had to talk really fast with my financial advisor. God bless my financial advisor!
When I started to get all whiney about all that money going out of one account into another so I wouldn’t get another $30 charge for insufficient funds and another $10 charge for accepting a transfer of funds into my depleted checking account, my financial advisor reminded me many people don’t have money they can transfer from one account to another.
(Fie on 1st National Bank anyway! Ho! Ho! Ho!)
He got me thinking.
Christmas will be rough this year but I have many blessings, in no order:
1. Mom is doing well at the care center and will be 97 in February! Praise the Lord!
2. My insurance is outrageous because I have one heck of a precondition, one that makes no insurance suicide, BUT, I have insurance: Millions of Americans don’t. Shame on AMERICA! The Lord provided for me! America?
3. I have food and a warm place to live, even if the rent is going up to well over $600 a month in January. Insurance and rent take over 70% of my income a month! But I have enough. Many don’t. The Lord provides what I need!
4. Seven years ago, I nearly died of Wegener’s granulomatosis. I thank the Lord that I have been in remission for 5 years 8 months! I should be dead!
5. My brother, sisters, and their families are doing well! Praise the Lord!
6. No one in the family died or was hospitalized! Thank you Heavenly Father!
Count your blessings this Christmas, and know that the greatest gift of all is Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise to us in John 3:16. So, it turns out “The Greatest Gift Of All” wasn’t that gift-wrapped Lexus in the driveway or that 52 inch HD LED television in the front room afterall!
God’s blessing on you this season!
Doug ~ AKA weggieboy