The Holidays Can Be Painful

We had much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving – living, for example – painful though it has been the past four months – is still living.

People often tell us how lucky we are. I agree. Then, my brain flips to what have could have been the worst outcome, not that we both could have been killed – but that only ONE of us had died. The very thought of it quickly sets me to crying. How could I go on without him? The devastation would be mind-boggling and I try not to go there, though sometimes I still do and am grateful for my physical pain. The mental pain of losing him would be greater than anything a few broken bones will ever bring me.

Jim is 8 weeks out from his shoulder surgery, his stitches are gone, and his sling is off. He’s still unable to sleep on his right side and isn’t supposed to be reaching that arm up over his head and does take the occasional Ibuprofen for pain. On the bright side, he’s able to play guitar again! Today he heads to his first Physical Therapy appointment.

I’m 2 weeks out from my clavicle surgery, the stitches were removed four days ago, but I’m still in the sling 95% of the time. I can’t sleep on either side yet and am still propped up with pillows when I do so. Good thing I’m okay with sleeping on my back. I was given a couple simple exercises but, for the most part, the elbow stays tucked to my side in an effort to not move things around too much. Pain pills are taken 2-3 times a day. It sucks. It always hurts even with medication. It’s frustrating and sometimes downright infuriating not being able to do for myself.

With a great deal of help from Jim, the tree is up and the house is decorated (at least inside – no outdoor lights this year). We got our first major snow storm Sunday-Monday. A foot of the horrible white stuff fell. Thankfully, the same young man who mows the lawn also does snow removal – not that I’m going anywhere without help.

As I’m still unable to drive, my son took me Christmas shopping yesterday. Didn’t get it all done, but certainly a majority of that is complete. Gift bags and boxes will replace much in the way of the actual wrapping of gifts.

Doing what I can on the writing front. Try to edit a few chapters every day. Progress is slow, but it’s still progress. I’m thankful for that, too.

Yup, the pain tells me I’m alive. I’m no fan, but it’s a constant reminder that we escaped a far greater tragedy and are meant to keep on going – in sickness and in health, for better and for worse.

The Holidays can be very painful. Mortality rates go up during this time of year. I hope you all are able to find the positives in a sea of negatives and that you can find something to be grateful for each and every day, no matter how small. It’s amazing how monumental just cracking an egg into a bowl can be!

Take care of each other and do what you need to do to take care of yourself – especially when that means asking for help. We all need help now and then. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for it.

Cover Me In Glue & Roll Me In Glitter

My ex-hubs has a Facebook page called “Tucked In The Corners And Under The Stairs”. It’s a place to post pictures and memories of all those old things we have kicking around that maybe once belonged to our parents or grandparents and that we still treasure to this day, or something found at a junk or antique shop, or won at an auction. You get the idea. It’s a fun and happy place to go when you’re feeling nostalgic.

Recently a dear friend of mine, Sherry, that I’ve known since the 4th grade, we won’t go into how many years ago that was, posted some pictures of little houses that her mother had. I don’t remember seeing these houses at my friend’s place all those many years ago, but maybe they were packed away before I came around. Who knows? Sherry said they were called Putz Houses and I was instantly enthralled because well, miniatures. I do have a slight obsession with such things.

Almost immediately I Googled ‘Putz Houses’ and the obsession dug its sharp, tiny claws in ever deeper. They are also known as Glitter Houses because they were traditionally covered with glitter to replicate the sparkle of snow and ice and used as decorations for train set villages and mantels during Christmas time.

As I scrolled through the websites I quickly found myself in the Danger Zone. Oh, look, a link for ‘Blue Prints’. This wasn’t going to be pretty. I clicked and the Nails of Obsession (oh, that sounds like a good name for a death metal band!) dug into my arm enough to draw just a bit of blood. I selected a very simple plan, the innocent sounding “Picture Window Cottage”. I printed the plans which took all of two sheets of paper. Oh, look, there’s a variation “Bay Window Cottage” page. I may as well print that while I’m here, too.

I took my pages and a pair of scissors to coffee break. How hard could this be? Within ten minutes I had all five pieces cut out and ready for folding and gluing. Break was over with though and I needed to get back to work. And for the next three hours those innocent pieces of paper taunted me. “C’mon, Pam, it will only take a few minutes. Stop working. Put us together. The glue is sitting right there.”

I’m not sure how I managed, but I fought off those little demons and got some real work done instead. Lunch time could not come fast enough. As soon as it arrived, I grabbed my salad, a bottle of white glue, my ready-to-fold “Picture Window Cottage” and a 3X5 mounting card base.

Between bites of less than fresh and flavor-filled mass prepared Chef’s Salad, I set to work. Fold, glue, hold. Fold, glue, hold. In another fifteen minutes, I had my house. Granted, it’s simple and flimsy, but there it was and I couldn’t stop looking at it.

Last night I lay in bed thinking about that little house. How could I improve on it? What could I use for siding? Roofing? Windows? A fence? Oh! Wouldn’t some pulled cotton look cute coming out of the chimney to resemble smoke? I have an extra bead from the miniature perfume bottles a made a few weeks back. That would make a great doorknob! How big should I make my final project? I’m going to skip the glitter. Frankly, I’m not the glitter type. I’ll be going for realism.

Today, I printed out plans for “The Little Charmer”, because it was there. I’ve obtained the right sort of board as well, not just flimsy printer paper. Thank, God, I only have seven more working days until winter break. I know, I know. I should be working on the novel, but MINIATURE HOUSES!!! people!

Happy Festival Of The Imagination!

Over on Twitter (pamelamorris65) and Facebook, I’ve been putting up a daily post about Halloween.  It’s been fun finding out new things about my favorite holiday. This morning I saw a news story about a school that has canceled their Halloween celebration because of its religious overtones. I’ve mixed feeling about that. Part of me says, “Well, that sucks!” Another part says, “I hope they cancel all their Christmas events at that school, too.”  I’ve never labeled myself as being ‘politically correct’ but I do try and not label and judge people based on religion, race, sexual preference, etc. As long as people don’t shove their personal labels in my face or try to jam them down my throat, I really don’t care who you pray to, from whose loins you sprang or what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom with another consenting adult. 

As a kid I never associated Halloween with religion. It was a time to dress up and play pretend with everyone else in the town. It was time to get free candy. That was it. Maybe it’s a good thing that Halloween is finally being recognized as what it really started out as. I’m all for the separation of Church (aka Religion) and State. However, if you are going to do that to Halloween, I think it’s only fair we look at the history of Christmas and Easter and the beliefs from which almost everything about those two holidays grew from, too.  Sorry if I burst some of your bubbles but both have some very Pagan roots.  Be all that as it may, I didn’t intend this to be a post about religion so I’ll cut that vine before it grows any longer.

The first costume I clearly remember was one of those store bought, hard plastic masks with a pull over, pre-printed smock dress. I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty but I guess she wasn’t popular enough and I ended up as Cinderella. My brother, now he was an original, he was a giant, paper mache carrot. Yes, you read that right – a carrot!  Maybe I should have gone as a rabbit. I dunno. He had, and still has, some pretty crazy ideas. A carrot… really?

The next costume I recall was recycled from the previous June’s Kiddie Parade hosted by our volunteer fire department. I was Little Red Riding Hood, complete with Big Bad Wolf. Okay… it was really our sweet and gentle German Sheppard but damn, I was cute! It was during that year I first experienced Halloween Mayhem. I was too little to control the dog myself so my big brother, dressed as the Woodsman, chaperoned myself and the Wolf to the fire station for their Halloween party about two blocks away. Old car tires were burning in the middle of the street. Lines of gasoline had been run across the road and ignited. Glass bottles and pumpkins were smashed everywhere. We trick or treated on our way there, got more candy at the party along with cider, donuts and the apples we bobbed for. I think we won a prize.

Years passed and I soon started making my own costumes. I was a vampire more times than I care to admit. One of my best friends and I dressed up like two of the members from KISS. She was Paul Stanley (on roller skates) and I was Ace Frehley. My dad helped make the platform shoes I wore.  A few years later a different bestie and I were Dracula and his bride. I got to be Dracula. There was a sexy witch in there someplace, too. My final trick or treat costume was the Grim Reaper. I think it snowed that year. I remember wearing a lot of layers under that big, black robe anyway. I was, believe it or not, seventeen when I finally decided I was too old. Now I hear about kids saying they are too old when they are twelve. That makes me sadder than the idea of a school not doing Halloween.

Eventually, I had kids of my own and the fun of Halloween returned in all its glory. I could dress up and go trick or treating again and no one would question it! YEAH! For years we decorated the house in a big way even asking friends to dress up and act as extras in the display. Droves of kids and parents came to the door. Gobs of candy was handed out. Now – my kids are grown. My son will be twenty-three in less than a week and my daughter is twenty. With no grand-babies in the near future, it’s going to be a long time before I get to go trick or treating again.  I am hoping to attend my first Zombie Walk in a couple weeks though.  I can’t help but wonder how many other people have “Participate in a Zombie Walk” on their Bucket List.

You hear a lot about how kids today lack any imagination due to television, video games and the like. If that’s the case, couldn’t Halloween be marketed as a Festival of the Imagination instead? If you could be anything you wanted to be, real or imagined, what would you be? On that one day you could become that thing. Let’s not take away something so valuable to our society, our sense of wonder and fun. Our sense of play is squashed enough as it is once we reach adulthood. We keep saying our kids are growing up too fast and yet we, the adults, are the ones that are making them do it. Taking away Halloween is like taking away part of being a kid. It’s pretend. It’s the one time of year we can maybe, just maybe, all get along regardless of religion, race and sexual orientation. Heck, even Jesus thought we should be more like children.  

Keep the spirit of Halloween alive in your heart. For me, that’s being like a child, playing dress up and pretend.  Don’t let “The Man” take away your sense of fun and wonderment or, most importantly, your fair portion of free candy!