Saturday, November 27, 2010

When I was a child, I couldn't wait for two different days.  One was my birthday...the only day that was completely mine and a day of fun, cake, ice cream, friends, and family.  The other was Christmas.  To me Christmas was the day.  There was no day like Christmas.  Not only did it top my birthday with the number of presents, but there were always a lot more friends and family around to enjoy it with you. We were told the story of the birth of Jesus and taught the gift of giving.  Dad would give us a $20 bill and with that $20 we would go out and buy presents for everyone. It was left up to us to determine who we bought for and how much of that $20 we could spend on each gift but you couldn't go over that amount. Back then, $20 was a lot! I use to buy for both my parents, sister and brother, and 2 of my cousins who were more like my brothers.

The whole family, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, relatives you only got to see once or twice a year, and people you didn't even know but were somehow related, were there to enjoy Christmas dinner. Usually there were so many people that Mom would have to set up a makeshift table or two in addition to the dining room table and a "kids" table. It was a blast. But that was then.

It seems like people have chosen to disregard the true meaning of Christmas. Now days, they don't concentrate on the gift of giving or that it is the Lord's birthday. It has become so commercialized that it starts in July (No kidding! I found fake Christmas trees and ornaments on sale in July!) and ends sometime in January with all the decorations and sales. People get so frustrated and irritable with one another when they are shopping. Shopping for others has become a real chore, too. They gripe about having to shop for others and are rude. Last year, I nearly got knocked over at Walmart by a lady who was hell-bent on getting her Christmas list filled that she didn't even acknowledge that she ran me "I'm sorry" or  apology of any kind. And you can forget about family and friends enjoying dinner. It seems like now they argue and prefer smaller get togethers. There is so much fake goodwill and that is why, as an adult, my favorite holiday is THANKSGIVING.

I absolutely love Thanksgiving.  It is the one holiday that everyone comes together and truly enjoys being together and sharing thanks for what they have. They don't worry about having to bring presents, or what to buy for somebody. Everybody comes together and truly enjoy each others company. We sit around and watch football, talk, tell stories, and have fun catching up with one another.

Just about every year I have Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I go all out and usually prepare a turkey and a ham (although pheasant and wild turkey have also been on the menu), all the traditional items such as dressing, potatoes and turkey gravy, candied yams, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and so much more. I spend enough to feed an army and love doing it. I don't expect anyone to bring anything except themselves and if they do bring something, it usually is something really good.

Thanksgiving is so important to me because I would rather concentrate on my family and friends rather than all the commercialism and fake goodwill. I guess I have always been concerned with family and friends but as an adult I have come to value them so much more. I know that not all of them will always be around so to treasure them while they are here is of the greatest importance. And there is not another holiday (at least in my family) when we can get everyone together at the same time. 

Thanksgiving is a time when everyone can be themselves and talk. Old stories are repeated each year, some of which get bigger and more exaggerated.  The children play together without fighting over new toys like they do at Christmas. Old time games like Hide 'n Seek and Tag are played. Everyone tries to forget their worries for the day and really try to enjoy the company of everyone else around them.

Without Thanksgiving, we would probably not stay in touch with those we love because everyone is so busy in their day to day lives that they can't take the time to  be thankful for what they have or for those around them. I personally feel it is so important to stay in touch with those we love and it would be such a shame to lose out on the joys and triumphs of those around us or to not be there when they need us. Thanksgiving reminds us that we are a family and that we are needed and that we care. Yes, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I truly love it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I absolutely love BIRTHDAYS!  I especially love children's birthdays because children truly know how to enjoy their birthdays. As we get older, we tend to forget to have fun, to truly enjoy what a birthday really means, and we dwell on the fact that we are aging.  That is so sad.

Another reason I enjoy childrens' birthdays is because I love to decorate cakes.  It is a hobby I took up when my children were little. I self taught myself how to make and decorate cakes and there is nothing like seeing the face of a child when they see a cake that is special made just for them. One of the best ones I ever made was for my middle son when he was 3 or 4 yrs old.  He was really wrapped up in "fish" and so for his birthday I made a flat cake and covered it in blue frosting. The frosting was put on so that it had peaks and looked like water on a windy day. On top of this cake I put another cake. It was a 3 dimensional cake made from an egg shaped cake pan. I inserted a piece of aluminum foil covered cardboard shaped like a fish tail into the narrow end of the egg shaped cake then I covered the cake and tail in black and white frosting, put 2 blue frosting eyes (one on each side) on it, inserted 3-4 blue pipe cleaners which were curled over at the ends  in the top and turned it into a whale spouting water.  My son was so excited over his "fishy" birthday cake that his presents were nearly forgotten. It made my efforts so worthwhile!

There are birthdays that I didn't like too.  For instance, when I turned 20, I cried. At the time I felt like it was the worst birthday ever! Here I longer a teenager but was a wife, a mother, and still too young to buy liquor! I guess I really missed being a child still and was feeling a little self pity.  Most of the people I knew at that age were in college having parties and going out all the time.  They didn't seem to have any responsibility and no cares. But later I realized that I would not have traded my life for theirs simply because they were missing out on what I treasured...the unconditional love from a child of my own.

I also do not like my mothers birthday which incidently is today.  I lost my mother 21 years ago and hardly a day goes by that I don't think of her usually with great memories but on her birthday every year it makes me realize how much I really miss her and I tend to get a little depressed. Again I admit to feeling a little self pity. I feel so cheated that she is not still here.  Enough said of that though.

Anyway, as I said before, I really do love birthdays or most birthdays. Generally it is a day of celebrating life and reflecting on all the joys we have had and all the joys still to come.  I look forward to the surprises each birthday brings whether it is one of my grandchildren's, another family member's, a friend's, or just my own. Yes, another birthday, another year, a little older, hopefully a little wiser, but still a day to remember reguardless who's birthday it is or for what year it marks. I wish all people could enjoy most birthdays like I do.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Here I am, sitting in front of the computer with a can of Diet Rite soda trying to figure out what to write about. We were told that we could write about any thing we want so I try to think of something interesting to others; something that will make them laugh or give them food for thought but I fail miserably.  Instead the only thing I can think to write about is about my family, specifically my grandchildren.  I can talk forever about them and I know I go overboard about them. And that's when it hit me. That is my subject. You know...the mother who talks so much about her little angel that even her closest friends are tired of hearing about the brat and even go as far as trying to avoid her.

Anybody who has friends with children or grandchildren knows exactly what I am talking about. Even those that don't have kids probably know. We almost all have worked with somebody like that, went to school with them. or have a friend or family member who fits the bill perfectly.

I used to work with a lady like that. Every break we got, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Did I tell you about..." and if I said no, the next 15 minutes were wasted on listening to stories about little Susie's potty training antics or little Johnny's discoverance of his "special" little body part. And if I said yes then she would immediately start telling me about a different incident that would be sure to embarrass the kid when he/she gets older.

At first it was cute...sometimes. It got to the point though that I asked my boss to let me take my break at a different time. She changed her break too. It was so bad that not only did I have to listen about it direct from the horse's mouth but I had to hear the horse's mouth repeat the story over the phone a hundred times to all of her relatives and other friends, and sometimes to the client on the other end of the line.  It was so bad that I was considering evil ways on how to get her to shut up. No, duct tape wouldn't work even if it was the fix it all tape.  If I could catch her sleeping...super glue?  But I was never around when she slept. I, that wouldn't work either. Nothing legal or worth jail time came to mind.

I seriously thought about being honest and letting her know that I didn't give a rat's behind (although that is not the exact word I used) about her daughter's potty habits or how her baby boy pulled on "it" which made him cry. Not that I wasn't sympathetic to the kids, but there is only so much you can listen to and not want to stick your finger down your throat. I also did not want to hurt her. After all, she was only guilty of being a proud momma. But enough is I changed jobs.

I didn't quit my job or anything like that,  but I did put in for a transfer to another department with only one open position and I got the transfer.  It solved my problem. I never had to listen to her at work any more and since we didn't associate much outside of work, I seldom heard of little Susie or little Johnny.  But then new problems arose. I didn't like my new job so well and now there was Mary telling me all about her new husband (number 6, no less) during every break! I guess there is some moral to this like appreciate what you have...or listen and learn...or something.  I think next time I will risk a friendship or take the risk of  hurting someone's feelings. So Mary, if you are out there "PLEASE SHUT UP!"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween: Then and Now

As a kid, I used to love Halloween.  When I was a kid, it was safe, or at least it seemed so back then.  In my earliest recollections of Halloween, I remember going trick or treating with my brother and sister or my cousins in our neighborhood.  Back then you carried a grocery size orange bag from door to door getting candy, pennies, and special treats. By the time you got home, your bag was so full that the handles broke,  or your bag was so heavy that you had to drag it until it tore, or you were so tired from going door to door that you didn't even care whether you still had your mask on or not.

There was always a house or 2 where you were invited in for a glass of kool-aid or punch, or for some special treat. I remember being served corn dogs or hot dogs instead of candy, or getting to decorate my own cupcake and eating it before gathering my bag of goodies and going to the next house. Sometimes you didn't even know whose house it was but you trusted that you were safe.

Back then most parents stayed home and handed out treats while the kids went trick or treating unless the children were obviously too little to go by themselves. But back then, even children in grade school went by themselves or with other non-adult trick or treaters. We stayed out late too. Sometimes it was 11:00 p.m. before we got home.

There was also the 1 or 2 houses where nobody was home so they would treat the kids on the trust system by leaving a bowl of candy on the porch with a note telling them to help themselves to a piece or 2 of candy. Believe it or not, most the kids were honest enough that that is exactly what they did. Yes, once in a while there was some bully, or greedy brat that would dump the bowl into their bag but for the most part, the kids were trustworthy.

When you finally did get home, you couldn't wait to start eating the candy even though you had been eating it the whole night. It was exciting to get homemade popcorn balls and candied apples. Often you would get little plastic baggies full of home-made candies and fudge. Of course you immediately had to sort all your favorite candies out from the rest and hide them from your siblings so that they (the siblings) wouldn't take them when you weren't around.

Today, it is a whole different world. Children now have to be taken by their parents and only to places that they trust. Kids cannot even eat their candy until it has been examined for fear that a needle or razor blade has been put in it. And let them go by themselves?  No way!  There are so many perverts and sick people out there today that to let a child go trick or treating without an adult would be so irresponsible in so many neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

Now if a child brings home a homemade treat, it is thrown out immediately (unless the parents know the treat-giver and trusts them). People are afraid to let their children go into houses now for fear that they will be harmed or molested. And at the same time, people are afraid to let children come into their homes for fear of being held responsible for some accusation or injury or for fear of being "cased" by a teen burglar or harassed by troublemakers.

It's not that there weren't bad people back then; I'm sure there were but you just didn't hear about them like you do today. Usually if you heard something bad about somebody, it was that they egged  or papered somebody elses house, or that their house was haunted so you just didn't go there.

It is really sad how Halloween has changed but at the same time, it is really good that parents have become so involved in what their kids are doing. It is also really good that businesses, schools, and communities have become so involved. Now days, children get to go to carnivals put on by the schools, or to shopping malls where each store hands out candy. Churches are really involved too. Often they organize parties so that the children are kept in a safe environment.

I guess when I really look at the differences from then to now, they aren't necessarily all bad. It just depends on whether you want to dwell on the bad ...or embrace the good.   I'd like to think that people are good and caring. As a grandmother, I'd like to embrace the good and hope that children today, and especially my grandchildren, will have as good a memory of their Halloween experiences as I did of mine. And I'd like to wish everyone a "Happy Halloween".

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Experience as a Working Adult/Student

I must be CRAZY!  Here I am...a wife, a mother, a grandmother...and I have gone back to school. I had made a promise to my mother on her deathbed that I would get my degree.  Of coarse back then I was going to school for computer engineering. I had even been accepted to OU's College of Engineering. But life happens and I dropped school for a semester. And the semester somehow turned in to many years. Actually, twenty-eight years except for the year I put in at Oklahoma City Community College picking up an associates degree in math.

I was never the normal college student.  Even when I had first started college, I was already married and had 3 sons.  I never got to experience the college life that so many others had but it didn't matter. I was there to learn how to make a comfortable living. I was there as a role model to my boys. Now all these years later, I'm doing it again, but this time to finish with a degree in business, and as a role model to my grandchldren.

As a working (and a little older) adult, I find it very hard to go to work every day and go to school 2 or 3 nights. When I am not at work or school, I am almost always at home doing homework or studying, or reading for the next class. I can remember how I used to be able to stay up nearly all night and still take care of my family and home, and go to school or work. Now all these years later, I can barely stay awake until 10:30 p.m. and my house is in dire need of a housekeeper. But time is running out and I still have a promise to keep.

Truthfully though, I love it. I have always enjoyed school except for a short time during my rebellious years in high school. If I could afford it, I would quit work and become a professional student. What I have noticed is that while life goes on,  change is inevitable, and yet, some things remain the same. For instance, the girls still talk about their boyfriends, the boys still talk about their cars, and now I'm more than a little older than many of my classmates.

For the most part, it has been good. I mainly have classes with others who are also working adults. I was taught long ago that nothing is free, you have to work for what you want, and what you want, might not be what you get. And that is still so true.

 I get up around 5:00 every morning, have coffee and get off to work. I put in an 8 hour day and then go to school at least 2 nights a week. It has been a real struggle for me and yet compared to some of the others, I really don't have much to complain about. When I feel like it is about to get the best of me, I sit and think about the young lady who has 4 children (one of which has severe medical problems), or the young man whose time has been spent in the war and has probably seen more sadness and horrible things than I will ever see. I count my blessings and look up to them and so many others, and realize that they have so much more to deal with and if they can handle it all, then who am I to complain?  I will be graduating in May 2011 ( if all goes as planned) and I can honestly say that I earned my degree, thanks to those around me who have shown me that while it can be a struggle, it can be done if you really want it. And I can't help but think that my mother would be proud.