I was going to write a Christmas letter this year. I thought I had enough news to (maybe) make it entertaining. I had the special printer paper for it--white, with a beautiful border featuring a church and an angel (which actually didn't fit the content I was planning to write). But as usual, I'm running late--too late to mail a letter to those few friends who don't have internet access. I could have emailed it to most of the people on my list, is suppose...but I figured I'd just post it here. I took the lazy way out!
It's been a mostly good year for Collin and me. Arthritis still has me walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame most of the time, but I'm no longer in need of a wheelchair or walker (Carolyn, thanks for the loan of both!). I can make do with a cane, mostly for stepping up and down from curbs and using those infernal public restrooms. (They're still at the top of my annual Pet Peeves list.) In September, my new neurologist ordered a sleep-deprived EEG and an MRI for me, which not only proved I do indeed have a brain, but the stroke my previous neurologist suspected didn't happen. There's no permanent brain damage from the epilepsy and it would seem I only have abnormal brain activity when I'm actually having a seizure--which, thanks to the new medication she gave me, happens less and less often. She still hasn't lifted the list of restrictions: no going out alone, no cooking except when Collin is home (like I'm going to fight that one!), no tub baths, showers only (if I got into the tub, Collin would have to call Greenpeace to get me out, anyway), no swimming alone. That one bites. I love the water, even though I swim like a rock. That will probably change when I go back for my follow-up appointment in April. I hope. The restrictions part, I mean, not the swimming like a rock part. At this point in my life, I don't see myself suddenly becoming a good swimmer.
I wanted to do Christmas cards with one of my MRI images wearing a Santa hat. Would that have been too gross?
Collin is still working at IHOP. This is his third IHOP, actually. In the fifteen years he's been in the workforce, he's had five jobs--three IHOPs, almost eight months at Sam's Club, and his first job, at Grone's Cafeteria in Webster Groves. In that time, he's only spent two months unemployed--in 2004, when Grone's closed without warning and went bankrupt.
Last week, he got an unexpected windfall from a class-action suit filed against IHOP #2. One of the restaurant's former employees initiated the suit, and he got a check for his share. Nice! And just in time for Christmas shopping--online, of course. I've taken a vow to never set foot in any mall or store other than those right here in our neighborhood from Thanksgiving until early January.
Collin has decided to go back to school and take up accounting. He's really good at it. This is progress, my friends--it wasn't too many years ago that this young man who doesn't even make his own sandwiches was determined to become a chef! He's tried his hand at designing book covers--and is quite good at it. The problem there is in finding paying customers. Most indie authors can't afford a cover artist, and he's made too much of an investment in both money and time to do it for free. This latest choice could work, though. He's great with numbers and math and is a whiz at budgeting. And this time, he's taking his courses online. When he tried to work full time and take a full class schedule at the community college, it just didn't work. I thought I was living with a zombie for a while there!
I can't believe he wants a job that involves wearing a suit. I'm having a hard time picturing him in a suit. The last time Collin wore a suit of any kind, he was four years old and the "suit" was a duplicate of the one worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. I'm fine with him becoming an accountant, as long as he promises to never, ever work for the IRS. It would be too humiliating! I'd have to wear a bag over my head if I ever did leave the apartment again!
On the writing front, those of you who have been following this blog or are one of my Facebook friends already know I've made some changes. One of the many things I love about self-publishing is that I can make those changes without consulting with agents and/or publishers. I call all of my shots, and I like it that way. If something isn't working, try something different. The options are almost limitless. I'm trying my hand at nonfiction, something I thought I'd never even want to do--a memoir of the worst period in our lives. There are people who think telling my story might help others in such circumstances. We'll see.
Because Collin has to work today and tomorrow, we decided to have our Christmas yesterday. I wanted us to have something as close to our family's traditional Christmases as possible--dinner, gifts, watching all of our favorite holiday movies... That meant a lot of last-minute shopping on Monday, but we did it!
I had one last gift to buy for Collin. Something just for fun. My dad was the king of gag gifts, and that's one of the many things I miss about having him and Mom here with us. One year, I bought Collin a deck of Star Trek customizable playing cards. They were in a small package, of course--but I put them in a huge package under the tree to fool him. He loved it--and ended up collecting the cards. This year, I found a Guardians of the Galaxy Star-Lord action figure at Walgreens. Collin was up at the photo counter buying memory cards, so I headed back to the toy department. I found the action figure and spent fifteen minutes trying to give him the slip in the store long enough to pay for it. I never thought I'd be so grateful for those huge mirrors on the back wall used to watch for shoplifters! I could see him moving from photos to candy to...toys? I headed for the pharmacy, hoping to check out there. Too many people waiting in line...and he was coming that way! Run! I headed for the other side of the store, ending up in cosmetics. The woman at the checkout there took care of my purchase quickly--good thing so many of the people who work there know us! She put the box in three plastic bags.
"I've been trying to get this without him seeing it," I told her.
She grinned. "He's right behind you."
"Did he see it?"
She shook her head. "No."
It was a nice Christmas--quieter than the ones we had with Mom and Dad, but I've finally accepted that nothing will ever stay the same. Change is a part of life. I gave Collin a video game, the action figure (I believe this is about to become the start of a new collection) and scratch-off lottery tickets (he won $12.00 on $10.00 in tickets). He gave me a handheld scanner and a Minion blanket. Collin normally won't give what he refers to as "practical" gifts, but he knew I needed a new blanket (I have a quilt that Mom gave me twenty years ago, and it's literally falling apart--being as sentimental as I am, I refused to get rid of it) and he knows I love all things Minion.
And speaking of sentimentality, this is the twentieth year for our little Christmas tree. If that tree could talk, it would have some stories to tell! Collin and I have agreed to never replace it. I still have the first ornament bought for it. Mom gave me a little wooden pig ornament to represent my pet pig, Iggy--just before she was killed and our nightmare began.
I don't know if Santa had anything to do with this or not, but falling stucco from the top of our building damaged one of our patio chairs. Good thing they're old. Good thing it wasn't one of us in the line of fire....
Here's wishing all of you--except you spammers, of course--a merry Christmas and a happy and successful 2015!
12/26/14: By popular demand (I'm still trying to figure out how to set it to music)....