Category Archives: Holidays

Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day 2017 tiny for blogThis holiday finds me a bit retrospective.  The meaning of the day often gets lost in the picnics, pool-parties, barbecues, boat outings, and family gatherings that go hand-in-hand with a three-day weekend.  I always take some time to reflect, remember, and honor those who have made it possible for me to live in this wonderful country with the freedoms that I have.

My grandfather on the mother’s side served proudly in the Pacific during World War II.  He was a long-time Merchant Marine who found himself in San Francisco the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.  Upon hearing the news, he went straight to the Navy recruiting office and signed up.  He left his wife and newborn son behind to serve and protect our country and our way of life.  I remember him telling me he was angry that we had been attacked, and he felt he needed to do his part.

He was awarded a Purple Heart and bore the scar on his stomach where he was shot.  He would show us grandkids his scar now and then.  It looked like a second belly button, and we grandkids thought it funny that he had a second belly button.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the seriousness of his war wound.  He also lost a good part of his hearing, the result of being too close to an explosion, and I never knew him without hearing aids.  He served his country with pride.  When he passed in the mid-80’s, we honored him with an honor guard and a tombstone which reflects his service in the Navy and his rank.  He was especially proud that he was not an officer.  He always saw himself as an every-man, and he would say that most of the officers we jerks (although he did once confess that he had a few friends who were officers, with a twinkle in his eye.)

My other grandfather was one of four or five boys (my memory is foggy on this one,) who drew straws to see who would go to war.  They were afraid that no one would be there to care for their mother or families if they all were to die in the war.  He drew the short straw and stayed behind to take care of his mother and his brother’s families.  He was proud to serve in that way.

One of my grandfathers had a brother who died in the war.  I can’t remember which one, and I don’t really have anyone to ask.  I think it was the mother’s father, but I can’t be certain.

Ironically, both of my grandfathers were raised without fathers.  They both had a fierce sense of honor and family.

The father who raised me served in the Army during the brief period of “peace” between the end of the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War.  He eventually landed on Guam, where if I recall correctly, he was the company clerk.  “Kind of like Radar,” I was told when the TV show MASH was popular.  We hear they had a really good time on Guam.  I never heard him speak much about that time.  When his four years were up, he returned to the states, got a job, married, etc.

I learned two years back that my biological father was in the Air Force.  He was a medic.  I don’t have a lot of details, and I’m not sure if he served during wartime.  I think he spent most of his time in Alaska.  My aunt his sister, sent me his Air Force photo for Christmas two years ago.  It’s a wonderful photo of a young, handsome man who I never knew.  The only photo I’ve ever seen of him.

I have friends and acquaintances who have served our country over the years, both in war time and peace.  I recall hearing that a number of boys I grew up with served during Desert Storm.  Timing is everything, and we were the right age for them to go.  I recall at the time the mother telling me, “Every generation has been in a war.”

To all the men and women who have served our country, to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a simple thank you does not suffice.  I am humbled and forever thankful for your service to ensure our freedom.

 

Why Mother’s Day is Hard for Me

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I have had a rough time with Mother’s Day for 20 years.  That’s a long time.  A dear friend of mine told me today, “Time to let go of that hold she has on you…”

My friend is right.  I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

20 years ago, probably in the February-March time frame, I excitedly announced to my parents that I was moving cross country, from California to Florida.  I had thought about it a long time, I had friends there, and the time was right for me to make such a change.

I made the three-hour trip to their place one Friday after work.  I took them to dinner at their favorite local haunt.  Once dinner was done, I shared my news, expecting support and undying love.

That did not happen.  Quite the opposite in fact.  The mother became terribly angry.  She accused me of telling them in a public place so she would have to “behave” (I later learned what THAT meant!)  Try as I might, I could not convince them that I was unhappy in my current situation.  Why?  Because…”All you need is your family. I don’t know why you always have to go looking for things you don’t need. You always do that. You don’t appreciate any of us!”

I stayed until Sunday afternoon, as which point I had to get out of there. The anger and hostility was too much to bear. It never eased up. In 19 years, it never eased up.

I moved in September and made a new life for myself. The next 19 years were spent at the receiving end of a furious mother. As each year passed, it became worse. I didn’t return to visit after a while because I didn’t feel I needed that kind of hatred in my life.  Every trip I did make left me battered and bruised emotionally.

I came to dread all holidays. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Every single one of them.  

She died a year ago April.  The dread did not.  I spent most of Mother’s Day crying and angry.  Not because she is gone, because so many have loving mothers who they would walk through fire for. It pains me to know that I will never have that experience. Facebook is really good about showing all the love out there. I need to stay off Facebook on holidays.

I hate that she still has that hold over me. I picture her, wherever she ended up, pointing at me and laughing about it. She always told me that she would haunt me.  For now she does. For now, until I learn how to release myself.

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Happy Halloween

I used to love Halloween.  I loved sitting outside and handing out candy to the sweet kids.  Then it all changed.  One year, the kids became greedy.  They complained if they didn’t like what I had.  Older kids started joining in, sometimes pushing the little ones out of the way for the good candy.  The year I had adults coming to the door, I stopped participating.

That was probably ten years ago.  The upside?  I save a TON of cash not buying candy.  I know of some who spend upward of $500+ on candy.  REALLY?? Who does that?

Now I am the ogre who either stays away from home until 9pm or sneaks in and leaves the lights off.  How will you spend Halloween?

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Halloween Throwback

I officially feel old. My favorite Peanuts special first aired 50 years ago.  I was eight months old.  I have seen it many times over the years. While not allowed to watch it after my little brother was considered old enough to be done with such things, I am known to still tune in once in a while. I simply love so much about it.

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I still love Lucy’s green mask.  I wanted that mask as a kid.  That mask was cool, and scary, and in my little girl’s mind, the perfect Halloween mask.  Whenever I see that mask, I think, I’d love to be that for Halloween someday.

I felt sorry for Charlie Brown and his bag of rocks. Our costumes were always homemade, and one of our costumes could easily have gone astray!  Being punished for wayward scissors…so unfair!  But he persevered and OWNED those rocks and the holes in his costume.

I still get a tear in my eye for the ever patient Linus, waiting…and waiting…falling asleep in the pumpkin patch.  I always wondered why his parents didn’t go look for him?  If I fell asleep in a pumpkin patch, surely the mother would have gone on a quest to find me.  He believed so hard, and he didn’t care what anyone thought.  We all could learn a lot from Linus.

Snoopy and the Red Baron, my favorite part of the story.  I loved Snoopy.  I once, briefly (a tale for another day) had a dog named Snoopy.  I thought Snoopy was the coolest kid of all.  He could do anything from the top of his doghouse. I wanted our dogs to have a doghouse so I could sit on it and fly.  I’m still a little amazed what Snoopy accomplished on top of that doghouse.

While looking for the perfect image for this throwback I stumbled upon a wonderful write up that was first posted in 2012, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Great Pumpkin.  I used one of the photos from this article, and give them full credit for it.  It was perfect, and depicted exactly what I had in my mind’s eye.  Click the link above and read the article, it’s pretty cool. Tell me what you learned that you never knew.

What is your favorite Peanuts special?

 

What Boosts Your Confidence?

Sometimes it’s a little thing that makes us feel younger, stronger, prettier, smarter. Sometimes it’s a big thing. Clothes often do that for me. A slimming outfit, a color that I know makes my eyes bright. 

What does it for you?  One of these or something else entirely? 

They all work for me!

A Halloween Story

Once upon a time I grew up in a rural community in Northern California. Very rural. 

The year was 1977. Halloween was a big deal that year. I don’t remember what our costumes were, but I remember the car and the pumpkin. 

We had an orange Malibu. Orange? Yes. The color-blind paternal unit painted it orange. Not pretty, but he loved it. (If my recollection is correct, he thought it was lemon yellow.)

That was the year he came upon a really huge pumpkin. We’re talking close to three feet tall. Huge. HUGE!!  I remember him pondering that pumpkin, and a plan developed. 

The plan was simple. Carve a terrifying face. Rig a lightbulb inside that was wired so that the cigarette lighter would turn it off and on. Affix it to the top of the car. Drive around on Halloween night, scaring the trick-or-treaters. 

We watched him prepare for about a week. On Halloween night, we waited until dark and then headed into town. We crept along the neighborhood streets, and turn on the pumpkin when we approached a group of kids. The maternal unit stuck a cassette recorder out the window and played a recording of the haunted house record. There was jumping, screaming, and laughing all night. The town kids got a kick out of it. 

It is quite possible that the parents had more fun that year than us kids. 

Now and then, this time of year, that memory wanders in and I wonder…how would that plan play out nowadays? 

I wonder how technology would make a difference. I’m guessing there wouldn’t need to be wires going to the cigarette lighter, nor a cassette recorder held out the window. Let’s face it, cassettes don’t even exist any more. It all would be quite different. 

So tell me…

Candy Corn

Every Halloween as children, my brother and I would don the year’s awesome, homemade costumes, climb into the back of the car with our paper grocery bags, and be driven into town to trick or treat. The parents never let us out of their site. We never went with friends. We could meet friends out and about, but we always returned to the car to head to the next stop. 

At the end of he night, we would return home and give our bags to the mother. She would go through every item in the bag. Anything homemade or with a questionable wrapper was thrown away. We would protest, especially about the homemade popcorn balls and candy apples from the sweet, little old lady in town. She would tell us that they probably had needles or razor blades in them, and no one could be trusted. Only packaging that had not been tampered with was safe. Apparently these things happened in the cities in the 70’s, and we could not be too careful. 

The candy examination would end with two bags and a bowl. One bag for me, one for my brother, and a bowl for the parents. Yes, she made her own bowl. She would remove from our bags all Butterfingers, Almond Joys, Snickers, malt balls, candy corn, and anything else that looked good to her at the time. Those things were placed in the bowl, and we were informed that was our payment to them for taking us “all the way into town on a school night to tricker or treat.” Heaven help us if we ever ate anything out of that bowl. She knew. She always knew. 

Candy Corn was the one item that we would fight for. I would dig deep in the bowl when she wasn’t looking and take some back. She would find it in my bag again and take it back out. Who denies their child the joy of candy corn?  Seriously. I could live without the rest. The candy corn? That pissed me off. (It still does.)

I was 13 the last time I went trick or treating. I don’t remember the costume, but I remember sitting in the back of the car squirreling candy corn away in my training bra so I could hide it in my room. That year, I had candy corn. 

I love candy corn. Probably because I was denied it in my formative years. I can eat an entire bag in one sitting. I feel sick after, but I can’t help myself. 

How about you? Candy corn, yay or nay?