Posted in Childhood, Family, Lucky Eleven

Christmas Eve Magic

This original post was from a year ago but bears repeating as Christmas Eve approaches along with one of my fondest childhood memories.

Growing up, there was a Christmas Eve tradition in our home that, according to my mom, began when she was just a little girl. Her parents started it, then my parents followed in their footsteps with the reading of T’was the Night Before Christmas.

“The Reading” about 25 years ago

Each year on that night, we would all get into our pajamas and make our way downstairs for “The Reading.” Dad would lie on his belly at the foot of the tree surrounded by all his children with mom standing somewhere behind. He would masterfully and with great relish read from the pages of that well-known book. After concluding with a very dramatic, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” we would suddenly hear, “Crack! Crack! Crack!” and from the ceiling huge walnuts would fall to the floor! At the same time, dad would leap up and run to the window yelling, “I see him! I see Santa! There he goes!” As we searched the dark skies for any sign of the sleigh, mom and dad would tell us to hurry upstairs so Santa could come back. We would then race up to bed and wait until morning to descend the stairs and behold the many presents under the Christmas tree.

As we got older, of course, we were quick to figure it all out. But with such a large family, and always with little ones, it was great fun to see what our parents saw, and it made us want to duplicate it in our own families years later.

The tradition continues.

This is a photo collage I put together on Christmas Eve a few years ago. These pictures started showing up on Facebook as the evening progressed, and I just had to collect as many as I could and put them together as a small tribute to a cherished tradition started over 90 years ago. I was lucky enough to experience this great mystery as a child, and it has been passed along to my children and now my grandchildren. My nieces and nephews and now great-nieces and great-nephews are delighting in the same excitement. I’m sure my mom’s parents never dreamed their idea for a little Christmas Eve magic would be repeated for generations every night before Christmas. But I know when it is, they, along with all our missed loved ones, are smiling down on these scenes.

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness, Us

Kissing frogs (aka Online Dating)

Ohmygod. Where do I start? I guess I start in 2016, unattached, independent, and looking for love in all the wrong places. When you’re past middle age, where the heck do you meet someone of the opposite sex? I’m way beyond the bar scene, even though that scene is quite active here near the beach. But I never settled into a local church, I don’t have school-aged kids, and my hospice job exposed me to mostly women. Most of my friends were either married or didn’t know any eligible men.

Enter online dating. Zoosk, POF (Plenty of Fish), Match, I shudder just to think of them. But truly, at the time and even now, it’s probably the single best way to get yourself out there and start meeting people. I know many, many now married couples who met the same way, and yes, they all have their horror stories, just like me.

It was to my great advantage that I grew up with eight brothers. Men don’t intimidate me even when they’re trying to be intimidating. And so I was able to view the pompous retired Army commander in much the same light as the pitiful Uber driver (“I’m in transportation”) or the starving artist. I discovered there definitely is such a thing as a mid-to-late-life-crisis in men. These are the men who divorced, sold everything they didn’t lose in the fight, and now live on a boat. There were too many of them to count, but I always wished them great luck.

After more than two years of online exposure (not a solid two years; I took breaks of months at a time), I was actually getting pretty savvy about the whole process. I found the fakes quickly by copying and pasting one of their photos into Google Images. Funny how that same great-looking guy is everywhere! And with different names! Or I would copy and paste part of their written profile into a Google search and see it appear on various sites, word for word. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google are all great places to investigate potential dates. Pictures speak a thousand words, but the real-life person can leave you speechless when they look nothing like said pictures. (That’s awkward.) Then there’s the multitude of men who would spend hours talking my ears off and then walk away knowing little to nothing about me.

Probably my most interesting discovery (duh) was that an inordinate number of these men simply wanted sex. Or they wanted to talk about sex. Or they thought if they fed me, they’d get sex. I suppose dinner is cheaper than a hooker, but really? I often felt like I was back in high school in the front seat of the car where some guy is trying to make out. I discovered from one ‘gentleman’ that the price of him helping me replace my thermostat was sex. (I settled on a YouTube video.) I’m not sure who some of these guys think they are, but spending any amount of time with them explained why they were still single.

With MY prince!

I did meet several really nice men; a couple actually became friends. But I think I knew when I met Mr. Right. I can still see his smile as he came out of the beachfront restaurant to greet me, and our good-night kiss is etched in both our minds. Was all that weirdness worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again if I had to? I don’t think so, but who knows? It’s scary putting yourself out there. It takes guts. You have to keep your confidence high and your expectations at least reasonable. But I am thankful every day there are online dating sites at our disposal, because really, there are some pretty great people out there looking for the same things we all are. You just have to kiss a few frogs before you find them.