Monthly Archives: November 2007

Update, Sort Of…

Mother sent an email to Middle Sister in England.  I have neither Mother’s email nor the response that MS sent to Mr. Chili at work, but he called me this morning in a state.  It seems that Middle Sister essentially tore into him for being unreasonable and pretty much accused him of hastening his parents’ demise by wanting to have Christmas at home for his children.

It’s going to be a very, very long month.

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Filed under frustrations, Home and Family, technical difficulties, Worries and Anxieties

Oh, Why the Hell Not?

Contrary has decided to do the Holidailies this year – it’s the December flavor of NaBloPoMo – and she’s asked her peeps to participate with her.

Since we all know that I’m obsessive-compulsive about writing every day anyway, I told her I’d join her.

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It feels a little bit like cheating. I mean, I’ve been doing this once-a-day thing for more than a year now, and I feel a little guilty joining in something that I’m already doing as a matter of course. Still, I’m nothing if not a good friend, and if someone wants me for moral support, I’m there!

Today’s the last day of NaBloPoMo. Now I’m doing once a day for December. Ready? Set? GO!

(oh, and from the Credit Where Credit is Due Department, big kudos go to the girl herself for figuring out how to get the neat-o, keen Holidailies button to work, and for sending it to me when I asked. Contrary, you totally rock!)

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Filed under Blogroll, Friends, my oh-so-exciting life

And Thus, It Begins

Mr. Chili has been talking to his parents about changing the Christmas traditions. It’s going about as well as can be expected.

He started a week or so ago by suggesting that we modify our already beloved Christmas Eve traditions by expanding them to include our family gift-giving. The response to this was that they’d “think about it.”

Mr. Chili left it alone for a while then, yesterday, he screwed up his courage and headed to his parents’ house for lunch (they live in the same town in which he works; proximity is not a problem). Mother wasn’t home, but Dad was. Dad was in a good mood, my husband tells me, so the topic was brought up again, this time with the addition of the idea that we feel it’s important to have Christmas at our house and we’d be delighted if they’d join us here for the day. From Dad, anyway, that information was pretty well received.

Mr. Chili suspects his father of not mentioning this visit to his wife when she got home (can you blame him?) because Mother called at 9:30 last night to offer us a DVD before she returned it to Netflix. Mr. Chili, in a really admirable display of initiative, brought up with her the things he’d discussed with Dad earlier in the day. He told her, respectfully and gently and without any trace of hostility that I could discern (and believe me, I was listening for it) that we’re very much looking forward to Christmas Eve and that we’re going to enjoy Christmas Day at home. Among other reasons for this is that the girls have expressed a desire to be home (and, by ‘girls,’ he meant all of his girls) and we would love it if they could join us.

She ended the conversation abruptly and hung up on him. This was in my inbox this morning:

I am very unhappy that you want to take over Christmas after agreeing that you had it last year and that it was our turn this year! A quick gift exchange with me providing supper on Christmas eve seems like a most unfair substitute for our traditional festivities. I can understand that you would like to show off your new house to your friends. How about your doing what we did last year and having your favorite people to Boxing Day the day after Christmas? Please, can we talk about this?

She did end the email by asking for a conversation about this, but neither Mr. Chili nor I are entirely convinced that she genuinely wants to talk; she’s not really ever been the type to sit down to discuss things with compromise in mind. Still, the fact of the invitation was not lost on me.

I’m doing my best to stuff my anger about her assumption that this is about showing off the house to our friends. This is a deliberate stab, and really doesn’t bode well for future conversations. She’s not listening to what we’re saying, and she’s not considering that the original tradition in the Chili family has been that the family with the youngest children (that’s us) hosts Christmas. I’m breathing in and out and trying to remember to approach this with an intention of love and gentleness.

I’ve sent an email to Auntie L asking her to talk with Mother sooner rather than later about her side of the family’s plans for the holidays. This is going to be a difficult transition for Mother, and she deserves all the time we can give her to get used to the idea of change. My only hope at this point is that she comes to understand that this is not an attack on or an indictment of her. A lot has changed for a lot of people in our family, and the traditions that used to work no longer serve us anymore.

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Filed under celebration, frustrations, Home and Family, My husband rocks!, Worries and Anxieties

The Last Class

Because my schedule at TCC is shifting next term from a Tuesday/Thursday grouping to a Monday/Wednesday scheme, I’m having to give up my Wednesday morning step class at the health club. Today is the last time I’ll teach it for the foreseeable future.

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I’m going to miss the class. I really like the people who come to it regularly, and I really need the workout. I’m a little sad to have to give it up – I feel no small amount of loyalty to the club – but I know absolutely that it’s the right thing to do. My degree is in English, after all; while I enjoy teaching fitness classes, I really belong in a classroom more than I do in an aerobics studio.

I get to keep my other classes – I teach yoga on Friday mornings, a step class at 8:30 on Sunday mornings and a yoga class immediately after that – and I really ought to make an effort to go to other people’s classes, too. The fact of winter, combined with the fact of the holidays and the fact of a reduced workout schedule likely means that I will begin to expand in ways that won’t please me. Sigh.

I hope that the instructor who will be taking the class starting next week comes this morning. I want to make a big deal out of her publicly in front of the members; I think she’s going to be wonderful as leader of this class, but a lot of people are skeptical because she’s usually in front of our “Young at Heart” classes – those designed for the older set. I know for a fact, though, that this woman can cardio with the best of them – we’ve roomed together for several fitness conferences and I’ve learned from those experiences that not only is she nice all the time, she’s like the frickin’ Energizer Bunny. I want her to be well received as my replacement, and I’m going to do all I can to make sure that happens.

The other reason I want her to show up is because I have a thank you gift for her. Her taking the class so readily and with such enthusiasm made my leaving it a little easier (and it made things easier for my boss, which also makes things easier for me). I’m pleased by how not-stressful this transition seems to be, and that is due in no small part to her.

So, I’m off to work out for the last time on a Wednesday morning. From here on out, it’ll be my literature students doing the sweating…

photo credit

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Filed under admiration, Friends, love notes, my oh-so-exciting life, teaching

Ten Things Tuesday

Times TEN!

Gerry over at TwoBlueDay inspired me to put together a list of 100 songs that I love. I’ve finished it, and have posted it as a page on the blog.  It would have made for a MONSTER post; WordPress has a word counter on my “create a post” page and this bad boy clocks in at just under 10,000.  I think it’s best as a separate page.

Go up to the header and click on “100 songs” if you’re interested to see what I groove to on a regular basis. Remember that none of it is in order and that I’m constantly adding to the list. Also recognize that, as soon as I finished the list, I thought of about five more songs I should have included.

What are some of YOUR favorite songs?

Happy Tuesday!

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Filed under Blogroll, music, ten things Tuesday

At the Risk of Exciting the Trolls

Disclaimer: I’m writing another Christmas post. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I’ve decided not to let thoughtless and inconsiderate commenters dictate what I do or do not say on my blog. I’m not going to abide obnoxious comments – I’m happy to have you disagree with me, but if you can’t disagree respectfully, your input will be deleted.

Thanksgiving was lovely, though more than a little strained. Remember this story about t.v.? Well, Uncle T has gone one step further (one might say he’s gone quite a bit further than that) and acquired himself a 60″, HD flat screen. Seriously? I think it’s bigger than one of the screens in our local movie theatre. Anyway, after dinner (which did not include the indian corn), we of the family who love football gathered in the living room to ooh and ahh over Uncle T’s new entertainment unit.

The in-laws were not at all pleased, though they were a little better at not stomping around and clucking their disapproval this year than they’ve been in the past. Auntie L, who wasn’t feeling terribly well to begin with, was in no mood to put up with much of anything. “If you all want to watch football after dinner, then you all watch football after dinner. This is MY house, and I want you all to be happy.”

We had a lovely dinner, we sat around and chatted (though, to be honest, a lot of our discussions centered around sports and such; we only see these people three times a year – we don’t really have a whole lot in common). All in all – for us, anyway – it was a pretty good day.

On our way home, Mr. Chili and I were discussing how the afternoon took on a very different tone than Thanksgivings past. His cousins are grown; one of them married the summer before last and one of them is engaged to be married next fall. They have in-laws who will want to see them at the holidays and I speculated that, since both cousins and their respective mates were in attendance at Thanksgiving, the likelihood of their coming for Christmas is severely diminished. He agreed, and the other day we called Auntie L to find out if she knew what her kids had planned.

It was during this phone call that we learned that Auntie L has been unhappy with the holidays for years – perhaps even decades. She, too, feels pulled in too many directions, and the expectations and pressures of the day that are imposed on her from others has reached a point where she’s not willing to buck up and take it anymore. She told us that it’s likely that her kids will come by her place in the morning, but that they’ll be spending the afternoon of the 25th with their respective in-laws (a situation made even more complicated for them in that their spouse and fiancee both have parents who are divorced, which means they’re going to be juggling parents, too). She suggested that we reserve Thanksgiving and Easter as Chili holidays, but that we take Christmas to celebrate on our own, and I couldn’t agree more.

Mr. Chili went to his parents’ house on Friday to start broaching the subject of changing the holiday. We love our Christmas Eve traditions with them; we go to their house, Daddy lights a fire in the fireplace, we admire the tree. Mom makes lasagna and we have a lovely dinner. We light one of these things:

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the girls peruse the nativity scene, then we all sit in the living room and read excerpts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s a really nice way to spend an evening, and Mr. Chili suggested to his parents that we make that our Christmas tradition by including gift opening in the evening.

His parents are “thinking about it.”

He’s going back over sometime this week (hopefully, sooner rather than later), to continue the discussion (I feel as though he’s a frickin’ Secretary of State in delicate, volatile negotiations with a hostile nation with weapons of mass destruction) and, after he’s done that, I’ve been asked to call Auntie L so that SHE can discuss with her sister-in-law what her branch of the family plans to do on the holiday.

It’s going to be tough going. I think it’s worth it, though; change is inevitable. Children grow up and have families of their own, and doing things simply because we’ve always done them – whether or not they still suit us or bring us joy – is wrong. Still, we should make every effort to come to some sort of agreeable compromise. My fear, though, is that everyone but my in-laws will be happy with the compromise we collectively design. While I’ll be sad if that happens (and, really, I don’t have high hopes for the outcome of these negotiations), I also plan to stand firm. I think this is important, and I’m willing to see it through.

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Filed under frustrations, Home and Family, Parenting, Worries and Anxieties

All I Want for Christmas

… is a little human kindness.

I don’t partake in the retail feeding frenzy that is the weekend after Thanksgiving.  With the exception of going to the health club to teach my morning class, I didn’t even leave the house on Black Friday.  While I do shop for Christmas gifts, I don’t feel the same glassy-eyed desperation that seems to come over a lot of people this time of year.  For me, Christmas is less about the things than it is about the time.

Falcon works in retail (the poor bastard) and has written a post that I think everyone who does any kind of shopping needs to read – and I mean any shopping, in December or otherwise.  He’s hit upon some important truths, and he tells them as someone who’s regularly on both sides of the proverbial counter.  Go read.

I know that all of my readers are kind and considerate and wouldn’t dream of being rude to a frazzled store employee.  I also believe that the energy we put out, particularly when we put it out en masse, makes a huge difference.  With that belief in mind, I’d like to suggest that we start a revolution of nice this season.  Pick up that sweater that someone tipped off the display.  Say something gentle to the store employee who was just abused by the customer before you.  Don’t behave like a kamakaze pilot in the parking lots.  Make the biggest gift you give this season that of kindness.

Let the holidays begin!

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photo credit 

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Filed under admiration, Blogroll, Friends, frustrations, General Bitching, social issues