Santa Delivers

Christmas Morning, 7:00a.m., my daughter comes into my room and whispers in my ear, “Merry Christmas, Mommy.” She climbs into bed with me and says with exuberance, “Come on, Mom. Wake up. Go to the bathroom (apparently a Christmas ritual) so we can go downstairs and see if Santa came.” I can hear It downstairs meowing. (Remember It? If not, click here to Read all about It. Sorry, I couldn't resist.) I pull myself together, which is not an easy task after spending Christmas Eve with the family at the Brushmill Restaurant in Chester, CT. One too many cups of good cheer make me want to stay in my cozy bed. But I remind myself that even though I only had a few hours sleep, it's Christmas morning and this is important. It's quite possibly the last time my baby will wake up and want to hurry to see if Santa delivered the goods or not.

I drag myself out of bed. Together, my daughter and I walk down stairs to the living room where it is tradition that Santa leaves his presents, unwrapped. This is the indicator that they are from him not me. She gets to the couch where all the cat stuff is laying out. She doesn't notice all the cat paraphernalia because she can hear a meow but can’t see It. But she knows It is there somewhere. She locates the cat carrier which just looks like luggage and finds It inside. She screams with delight, “Santa DID bring me a kitten. He DID! Mommy, Look!” Curbing my enthusiasm, and with all the disgust I could muster up, I said, “WHAT THE...?” (Don’t worry, I stopped myself. I wouldn’t swear. Not on Christmas morning anyway.) She giggles and laughs. She takes It out of the carrier awkwardly, not sure of how to handle It yet, chuckling her way through it.

“MOM, can you believe he brought me a kitten?”

I didn't want a kitten. So flatly and unenthusiastically I reply, “No, I can't believe it...That darn Santa.”

“Mommy, I can’t believe Santa came through!”

“Me either. Grrrr” She laughs.

Its love at first sight. She nestles in with her new kitten and opens some of the cat toys Santa left for her and It.

Screams of joy coming out of her, all giving praise and thanks to Santa - some guy she met in the mall for about three minutes. The same guy who said he couldn’t bring her a kitten, who had dashed her hopes. But, oh happy day, he came through! What a guy that Santa is, huh?! Then it occurred to me just how messed up this whole set up truly is. It doesn’t seem quite fair that Santa gets props for ALL of this.

I want to sit her down and say (or more accurately scream), “What about me? The one who slept in the cold RV all week? Me, the one who snuck into the house at 6:00a.m. every morning, trudging through the snow, so you wouldn’t know I was outside all night? Without details, who paid for this entertainment and who will be paying for it for years to come? Not Santa! Like a deadbeat dad, he's long gone!..." I can’t take credit for any of it because that would mean I knew about It. So Santa had to bring all the accessories too! I couldn't even take credit for that! And since I'm on a roll, I would also say, "...And what about the sleep deprivation? And the weight gain from having to eat only cookies for a week because that’s all there was in the RV? Huh? There is no end to the sacrifices that parents make!" (OK, that last one I may have been pushing a bit too far, but it’s always good to brush up on the mother-guilt skills.)

All the surrendering and sacrifices I had to do and who does she love and adore right now? SANTA CLAUS! That's who! “Santa this and Santa that.” Grrrr. This isn't easy for me to say, but I admit it. I have...Santa Envy. It’s taking everything I have not to say, “Listen, kid, without me there wouldn’t BE a kitten here right now." Oh, I know Santa ultimately delivered It to the Cat Lady. But here's what I want to tell her. "I’M the one who braved the snowstorm to get It and without a sleigh I might add. Your big hero Santa was too much of a scaredy cat to drive his sleigh in the snow a week before Christmas! I’M the one who had to travel to Branford because Santa didn’t have room to put the kitten in his sleigh! He’s so disorganized! And Lazy! Why can't he shave that beard once in a while! I’M the one who sang loud, obnoxious songs to you on the way to the car each morning and night so you wouldn’t hear It meowing in the RV. I‘M the one who got up at 5:00a.m. Christmas morning, brought the little critter in the house and got It all set up. Not Santa!" Then I might take a breather to let her absorb all that. And once she stopped crying I would start right back up again. "...And Ya' know what else...(at this point my veins are pulsing out of my neck. I might as well really let her have it right?)...Let me tell you THIS little pearl of wisdom. I think your good buddy Santa Claus, who gave you a kitten when I wouldn’t, is a slacker. Yup, that’s right. I said it. A slacker! He got me to do all the dirty work and took all the credit for it. Yup. Just like he gets the elves to do all the work and he takes ALL the credit. When in essence, all Santa really does is be a glorified delivery boy. He's just the Fedex Guy dressed up in a red suit, that's all..."

I work with people like Santa. He uses others to gain notoriety and fame. He should spell his name like Santa “Claws” because he uses his claws to climb his way to the top, not caring who he destroys on the way up. The Tooth Fairy has never asked me to get up in the middle of the night; the Easter Bunny never asked me to lay eggs around the house for him; But that Santa, why, he's nothing but a charlatan. I never did like him after I saw him kissing my mother. Poor Mrs. Claus, home baking cookies, not knowing what he was up to while making his "rounds", staying out all night, supposedly delivering presents to all the girls and boys. How many other parents did he get to do his work this year so he could be Mr. Casanova? I know. Someone should tell Mrs. Claus. Or maybe someone should send her the link to this blog and let her read it for herself. (No good philanderer!)

At this point, having self-medicated myself with a little spiked eggnog that I'm having for breakfast, I take a deep breath and say, "...So see, Rachel, Santa isn’t such a nice guy. I’m the one you should be loving right now. ME! Your Mommy!!!”

That’s all I wish I could say. But instead I grit my teeth as she proclaims her love for the fat man in the red suit as “The Best” and I say, "yes, Dear, Santa IS the best." It’s not fair. But as parents, is anything ever really fair?

(Maybe this year she should hang around with that kid and her mother that likes to give all the facts. Nah!)

So I resign myself to the fact that I will need to discuss this unfair treatment and unrighteousness next week in therapy. After all, it’s a holiday and my therapist has the day off, otherwise she would have gotten a call that morning so I could express my jealousy over this Santa character, and explore the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy I was experiencing having only gotten my daughter books, clothes and necessities for Christmas. But my emotional and psychological well-being is not what is important. So it will have to wait. Repress it, Sharon. Repress it. Ah, NOW it feels like Christmas Day!!

As if he wasn't all magical and powerful enough, Claus wrote my daughter a letter to accompany the kitten. It went like this:

Merry Christmas, Rachel

This Kitten needed a good home and I thought of you. Just remember, with this kitten comes responsibilities. You need to feed it, give it water, empty its litter box, and most of all, give it love and affection. If you do these things with kindness, you will have a little furry friend for a long time.

P.S. Don't worry about your Mommy not wanting the kitty. As soon as she gets to know it, she will love it too. You'll see.

Santa Claus

Friggin' know-it-all. The arrogance of him professing to know how I will feel. Add that to the therapy agenda too! I'm making my OWN list! How do you like that, Santa?! We'll just see if YOU'VE been naughty or nice!

(Where are my blood pressure pills?)

Anyway, on to what IS important. What to call It. I liked the name It but how could I explain that to my daughter? So It will need a real name I guess. He’s a silver Persian and is all fluffy gray. I suggested “Pussy Willow” but didn’t want to be calling it “Pussy” for short. Rachel suggested “Silver” which resulted in me breaking out into singing, “Silver and Gold, Silver and gold, means so much more when I see…” I vetoed the name Silver because there would have to be a “Gold” to match at some point. NOT going to happen. He/she’s undercoat is white and just the top layers are silver. We joked about It coming down the chimney, and maybe he really is all white but just has ashes all over him. She suggested calling It “Ash”. But I could see myself calling out to him/her, “C’mere Ash. Here, Ash hole”. Not good. I suggested we give it time and see if he does something that will help us.

Through the day, as It found its way around the house, It kept climbing into places that it shouldn’t. The first of which was the Christmas tree, as many of you have probably already envisioned. It batted its paws at the low lying tree branches and low hanging ornaments. At times the whole tree shook, with me standing by, watching as heirloom ornaments were on the brink of destruction.

Finally, I found the silver lining to all this adjustment that I will have to do with living with a new kitten. It would climb behind furniture and come out all dusty. It was great the way he/she dusted in spots that hadn’t been dusted since I moved into this house in 1996. At one point, It was so overcome by dust that he/she started to choke. I thought I was going to have to do the Heimlich maneuver on It. When hearing this, my daughter, being a novice at cat ownership asked, “What? I’m going to have to lick it?” “Yes, honey, that’s what good pet owners do. Now go lick YOUR cat.” (Not to worry, I eventually explained what the Heimlich is.) By the way, It didn’t choke to death and I didn’t have to do the Heimlich at all. A few heaves in and out cured whatever it was, and then he/she moved on to licking its butt. (Note: After seeing that, no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation will be done on It to save its life either.)

“How about Dusty?” she asked. “No, we know someone who has the nickname Dusty.” But we were on to something there. I said, “How about "Mop"?” No. He doesn't look like a mop. Furry, but not mop-like. "We usually use the Swiffer to dust the floors. How about “Swiffer”? She said, "Yeah, but we’ll spell it “Swiffur” because his/her fur collects the dust!" Not convinced, and taking it one step too far (I know, as usual), I said, "Or how about “Transfur” since we don’t know what sex he/she is. Trans and fur? You know??" A unanimous look of disgust and, "Ok, 'Swiffur' it is!"

So, everyone, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my family, It, I mean, Swiffur. Swiffur, this is everyone.

Meet Swiffur...

Best Friends

“Mom, you said if Santa brought a kitten that we could keep him, right?”

“Unfortunately Rachel, that is what I said, but I said that only because I didn’t think he would bring one. Now say your goodbyes, we need to bring him to the pound now.”


“Just kidding. Yes, you can keep him.”

"Thank you, Mommy!! I love you!" Accompanied by the big hug I was waiting for.

My Kaneclusion: "Who’s the big hero NOW, huh San-taaa?"

(They all can't be mature conclusions. :-))

See you in 2010!

Happy New Year to Everyone!

We've Only Just Begun...It.

Pssssst, just between you and I, no wait. Before I spill, you need to promise me that you will keep this a secret. Promise? Seriously, uncross your fingers from behind your back, and really promise. And your legs. Come on!

Let's try this again. Promise to keep a secret if I tell you? Ok, good. You better keep your promise. Santa Claus is watching, and you don't want to end up on the naughty list so close to Christmas, do you? Ok, this is what you are promising. But before that, I trust you, so I'm only sharing this with you. You're special to me, and I know that once you say you won't tell anyone, you will keep your word. This is not to say that you can't share this blog with anyone else. You can. If you can trust them like I trust you. But I would make them promise like I am making you promise. And it can't just be until Christmas day. Oh no. This is a lifetime commitment of keeping this to yourself. If you can't handle it, tell me now and I won't share it with you. What do you mean you can pretend that I never told you this, that you don't listen to me anyway? Nice! Here I am, trying to share something with you and you're treating me like this? Never mind. Go back to Facebook, or whatever you read when you're not on my blog.

Come on. Don't be like this. I just need to make sure you're not going to be like the kid in Rachel's class who felt compelled to share that her mother told her about Santa and gave all the facts. (I wanted to kill that kid and her mother. If someone doesn't believe, great! But why do they have to spoil it for everyone else? I mean, my daugher is only 20 years old. She's too young not to believe. :-) Just kidding on the age. In discussing this with my 9 year old, I told her that everyone believes what they want to believe. In our house, we believe in Santa. Ok, back to what I have to tell you. Hopefully you will be better with secrets than the girl and her mother. Just swear you won't ever, ever, ever, tell my daughter what I am about to tell you. You swear? Ok, here is what you have sworn to keep secret:

Santa came early. And by early I mean he dropped my daughter's kitten off in Branford, CT and I had to go pick it up from there, not on Christmas Eve, but rather 6 days early. I guess he figured that he COULD fly the kitten in his sleigh if he didn't have all those other gifts like ipods, American Girl dolls, and misfit toys in his sleigh as well. So he contacted me and said, "Hey, Sha (that's what he calls me), the kitten is ready. Could you help me this year and put it under the tree on Christmas Eve?" At first I resisted. "No, Santa! I have made it perfectly clear that I DO NOT want a kitten, cat, or any kind of feline in my house!" Then, in the way that only Santa knows how to do, he reminded me of the 'non-refundable deposit'. Who am I to turn down Santa anyway? (Even though he DID cause some grief temporarily this year. See, "All I Want for Christmas".)

Now, this was all supposed to happen on Sunday, but due to the snow storm we were expecting, we had to change plans and go on Saturday instead. I had to rearrange the babysitter since Rachel couldn't know about this transaction. Santa made me promise not to tell anyone. Sort of like how I just made you promise. (Where do you think I got that from?) I promised, like you, but obviously I'm sharing it with JUST you. I trust you to keep this secret for all eternity, so I think Santa would think it's okay that I'm telling a few of my closest friends on the internet (and their friends that they trust, and so on). It's cool. (Seriously, just don't tell your kids!)

Anyway, I drove to Branford with the fear of the impending storm breathing down my back. As I drove, rushing to get to where I needed to go, like everyone else on the east coast, maniac drivers were everywhere, hurrying to get their milk and shovels. It hadn't even started to snow yet and yet it was treacherous driving out there.

I won't bore you with how the transaction went. Only to say that the woman that Santa trusted with Rachel's gift was a bit of a whack job. Apparently, she was the drop off point for many other kids who had asked for cats. There must have been 30 cats there, all taking over the house. Maybe Santa chose her for the drop off point because of her well-stocked kitty litter flooring. I don't know. But I do know that between the smell of cats and the woman's hacking up mucus and smoking cigarettes at the same time, I got my Rachel's bundle of joy and got the heck out of there. The snow storm providing the best excuse to have to run. Driving back home, I was faced with the next dilemma. Where to keep the lump of fur until Christmas day. Six days. Hmm? Can't stay in the house because Rachel would hear it. Guess Santa and I should have thought about that one. (Flippin' Santa!)

The only option was the Winnebago which sits in my driveway during the winter. The Winnebago (aka the RV, aka Santa's Secret Storage!) has all the modern comforts of home. With the one exception of running water and toilet usage due to it getting winterized last week. (Like a house, the pipes in it can freeze and therefore all the pipes were drained as a preventative measure.) So no water. But a kitten doesn't need running water and it certainly isn't toilet trained...yet.

To make the kitten feel at home, a miniature RV-sized litter pan and food/water dispenser was added to the accommodations. The heat was turned on, even though panic ensued when it was discovered that the RV was low on propane, which runs the heat. Not a simple fix. Can't go to Walmart and pick up a can of propane. No, the RV would either need to be driven to an lp gas station (NOT driving the RV in the snow, even though it hadn't started to snow yet. As soon as the RV left the driveway, inevitably, it WOULD begin to snow, so this was not an option.) Or have a delivery made to the house, but that would be too cost-prohibitive on the weekend. So a trip was made to Walmart to get electric heaters instead.

Dianne went to get Rachel at her friend's house, while I got nestled in with It. (That's its name until Rachel names It. There was confusion at Santa's drop off point on whether It is a boy or a girl. Hard to tell with all the fur. So a vet visit is the utmost of importance, first on the list of things to do for It after Christmas.) Ok, so I get It in the RV. It's petrified because It was used to being in a house full of other cats, and smoke. I wasn't about to provide other cats for It's comfort, so I lit up a cigarette and started, I didn't. That's a lie. I only had a cigar from poker on hand, so I lit that up instead. It and I wandered around the RV, me looking for little choking hazards, he/she trying to figure out what the heck happened to his brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mother and father. I wonder if It was thinking that this was some type of concentration camp, being ripped away from his family like that. Anyway, I call Dianne and say, "It won't be quiet. It keeps meowing. Rachel is going to hear It when she gets out of the car. What should we do about It? Bring It back to the Cat Lady?" No such luck. I prepared the RV for complete secrecy. I pulled all the curtains down making it impossible to see in or out of the RV. We made arrangements to tell Rachel that I was working on something in the RV (never would happen but she doesn't know that). So when she got out of the car and could hear the very loud TV on in the RV, tuned to "Animal Planet", she would understand that it was just Mommy fixing the cable in the RV. (I know, the TV wouldn't work if the cable was broken, but again, she doesn't know that. I never claimed to be the best liar in the world, so give me a break!)

Anyway, it worked. She bought it all and went directly into the house. Phew!

Prior to Albert coming (the snow storm), it was cold out, but the RV was toasty warm. I left my coat in the house because it's a relatively short walk/run from the RV to the house. Knowing I was spending the night in the RV with It, I got nestled in on the couch to watch TV. It came and joined me, finding that the most comfortable place to lay was on my head, making it imposible to watch TV. Having just been ripped away from his/her familiar surroundings, I allowed this for a period of time. Until I couldn't breathe, then decided that was enough. It slept with me most of the night, but I didn't sleep because I was worried I was going to roll over on It and squish him/her to death in my sleep. I'm fairly certain that a trip to the taxidermist and a stuffed real kitty was NOT what Rachel was asking for. So I kept waking up to make sure It was alright. Like having a newborn in the house, waking up just to take a peek at It, poking It to wake it up, just to make sure It was still alive. Then wanting to go back to sleep but now It was wide awake and wanted to play. Ever try sleeping while sharp little claws are swiping at your face? Talk about trust!

The next morning, at 9:00 a.m., I woke up. Typical of every morning, I had to go to the bathroom. Half asleep, I staggered to the RV bathroom and remembered there is no water. I switched on a light because it was dark in there from the curtains being drawn. I couldn't find It. I could hear It, but couldn't see It. It was under a chair and was fine. I decided that I needed to brave the cold and run into the house to relieve myself. I looked for my coat and remembered I had left it in the house. I slipped on my slippers and opened the door. To my complete surprise, two feet of snow stacked on the stairs of the RV and everywhere made it almost impossible for me to open the door!! The simple run into the bathroom was not going to be as easy as I thought! Especially in my slippers! Due to the snow drifts, in some places the snow was 3 ft high! I was fortunately able to get the door open. But I had no coat, no boots, no gloves.

I called Dianne who was in the house watching Rachel and said, "I'm coming in. Don't ask me anything about the kitty in front of Rachel. Oh, and by the way, where did all this snow come from? I have to go pee really bad!" Dianne opened the garage door so I could come in that way, which was at least level ground. Unlike the stairs leading to the front door which were hard to detect as stairs from all the snow. From her nice, dry spot in the garage, Dianne proceeded to take pictures of me trudging through the snow, trying to make my way into the house. She was laughing her ass off watching me try to walk in snow that was up to my thigh! The more she laughed, the more I laughed. More importantly, the more I had to go to the bathroom. Frank Zappa's "Don't you eat that yellow snow, don't you go where huskies go" came to mind!

But all's well that ends well. I made it in the house just in the nick of time.

At the time of this post, I am in the RV with It. It is sleeping now and I'm typing away. I have deleted It's contribution that went something like this: qwerhagfyuge. This was one of the many times that It stepped on the keyboard trying to get my attention. I have only one question left. How do I send It back? Does Santa take returns? (I know, that's two questions. I'm sleep deprived.)

Speaking of being a jerk, I came across a song that has been playing on Sirius radio that has me cracking up so I thought I would share it with my readers. It's by the Spongebob Squarepants crew (of which I am a fan - I have a Spongebob mouse pad on my desk at work!). And although it doesn't have anything to do with It (remember It, the kitten?), it's my Kaneclusion for this week.

My Kaneclusion: I have witnessed impatient people getting annoyed at cashiers in stores. (Do you know how much these people get paid? Have you ever worked in retail? If you have, then you know how long the hours are. How standing and putting up with people's crap can be. I worked at Spencer's Gifts for 2 months once, making $3.85 an hour. It was the longest, hardest job I've ever worked for the paycheck I got.) So, the next time you're in line, and the cashier is making mistakes, or the person in front of you needs a price check, keep the following song in mind.

I have heard of families getting into wars over where they are going this Christmas, fighting over party arrangements, et cetera. Think of this song. You don't want others singing the following song about you.

Stop cutting off others in parking lots just so you can have the closer spot. The person you cut off is going to sing this song about you. And you will have deserved it!

In general, I have seen friends treating friends badly; family members taking other family members for granted; Hell, I've even seen Santa being a jerk this year. So it's all very fitting that I leave you with this little tune that says it all. Don't take it personally. Unless, of course, you HAVE been acting like a jerk. In that case, there are still a few days before Christmas to redeem yourself. I'm just saying!

Enjoy the song! The slide show is great!!

Bring Joy to the World.
It's the Thing to do.
But the world does not revolve around you.

Just a little reminder. You promised not to ever, ever, ever tell Rachel or her friends anything about this. So, please...

Don't be a jerk, it's Christmas. :-)

Thank you to Mrs. B who offered to keep It until Christmas. Very kind of you. And to Jocelyne who rearranged her schedule to watch Rachel while the score was being made.

Before anyone asks, there are no pictures yet. I trust that you will not mention this to Rachel or her friends. If you saw a picture of It, it would be hard to contain yourself. I really do trust that you can keep a secret. But not THAT much. :-)

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

All I Want for Christmas...

Last year, I considered getting my daughter a kitten for Christmas. When I asked her if she would like that, she shrugged and said, "yeah, I guess". Not exactly the enthusiasm I was looking for, to encourage me into taking on the 15-20 year commitment of vet bills, kitty litter scooping, lint-brushing suits, or risking the chance of little pummeling claws puncturing my waterbed mattress. After thinking about it, it was a relief that she didn't want one. I was so happy that I didn't embark on that idea.

Flash forward to this year. Number one item on her Santa list: one cute, loving and playful kitten. Ugh! I have made it clear to her that I do NOT want a kitten. But if Santa brought one to her, there would be nothing I could do about it.

She wrote her letter of declaring her status as being "a good girl this year", therefore, requesting a kitten, knowing full well that it comes with responsibilities and she is ready to take them on. We mailed the letter. The rest is left up to fate, or rather left up to the discretion of those creepy little elves.

This past weekend we went to the mall hoping to get to see the REAL Santa. No Santa's helper for us. A fake beard will not do. It has to be the Big Guy or not at all. It just so happened that we were in luck! He happened to be there. Since the kids were little, it became tradition to go to the Ingleside Mall in Massachusetts to visit Santa Claus there. The Santa there was the real deal. Any time I had a hard time getting into the spirit of the season, that Santa would make me laugh. We would search him out and all of us would instantaneously feel happiness if he was there sitting in his thrown-like chair. He was worth every minute of standing in line. Just like Santa is supposed to do - he brought joy to my kids and I. He had the best sense of humor and would spend time talking with the kids. Heck, after my kids were done, he would pull me onto his lap and we'd talk up a storm. I'd tell him what I wanted (one year it was to have my contractor "taken care of" and his response was, "I have the perfect elf for the job.") He'd always have some snappy or flirtatious answer that would just make me walk away giggling. Then two years ago, things started to change. Mall management was making it more about "get 'em in and get 'em out" and the light in Santa's eyes wasn't the same. Last year we went, and as I feared, he wasn't there. I was truly sad, as if I had lost a friend. I prayed that he didn't get sick. I prefer to think that he just stopped going there because it was no longer the place to be, that the spirit of Christmas was no longer there. He will always be the real Santa to me. I miss him.

This year, we happened to be in Hartford and decided we would try the West Farms Mall. We were quite pleased to see that it wasn't one of Santa's helpers (no angel hair beard). The set was quite an elaborate display. The theme was the movie The Polar Express. While you wait in line, you can look at stations designed from the movie. Kids (and adults, if you're a kid at heart) can pull the train's horn and it actually whistles like a train. There is a real live conductor yelling "All aboard". In one part, they have a huge snow globe that you stand in that has white flecks of something coming from the top, giving the appearance of snow. This was cool. But be warned, you'll be picking the white particles out of your hair for a while. Anyway, all of this is an effort to make the waiting in line to see The Man go by a little quicker and less painful.

We fortunately hit it just right. There wasn't much of a line and we breezed right through. My daughter, without hesitation, sat on the Big Guy's lap. "Smile! Look at the photographer! Without whom we could not talk to Santa! Smile! You must purchase a photo package! Smile! Only $69.95! Smile! Sorry, no using your own camera! Smile!"

Do you remember the days of going to see Santa Claus and it didn't cost a thing? It was a way for the Malls to brings in business. Now it's all commercialized. This is no joke. I once got a ticket for videotaping my daughter after visiting with Santa. They wouldn't let me video tape her while sitting on his lap. So after she was done, I was interviewing her off to the side. I was asking her what she asked Santa for. Out of nowhere, a mall cop came up to me and said, "No Videotaping in the mall, Miss" and handed me a slip of paper. As he walked away and got on the escalator, I waved to him and yelled, "Merry Christmas!" I ask you, what was the harm?

Anyway, back to this year. Once the photos were done, my daughter was allowed to tell Santa her want list. The first item: a kitten for Christmas. I stood behind her to give Santa a nod. But before I could, Santa was telling my daughter that Santa "doesn't bring live pets, because they don't transport well in the sleigh. And besides, they are a huge responsibility." I watched my daughter's face, the smile dashed away. Her body language was such that it was as if someone just punched her in the stomach. Her head bowed into her chest with disappointment and defeat. All the kid wanted for Christmas was a kitten. This was nothing short of "You'll shoot your eye out, kid" from The Christmas Story. I kept trying to get Santa's attention so he could give her a little hope. That wasn't going to happen. We were shuffled off so that the next kid could have his dreams trampled on by Santa. As we walked away, I tried to make the best of it by saying, "Phew, thank goodness Santa doesn't bring live pets. I didn't want a kitten anyway...But if you believe it will happen, if you truly believe, it will come true for you." She smiled and said, "I do believe...Do you think he was just pulling my leg, Mom?" I said, "There was a twinkle in his eye when he was telling you that. But I hope he wasn't kidding. I don't like cleaning kitty litter." She laughed.

I think I would have given Santa a piece of my mind had I not just read a piece on AOL about how Santa has to go to school to get the answers to some of these types of questions that kids ask. [I looked for the link but could no longer find it for reference. Sorry.] When he said that pets don't fly well in the sleigh, I remembered reading that. So I gave Santa a break. But still. He wasn't very perceptive. And, not for nothing, I didn't realize Santa was a southern gentleman with an accent.

I can understand that Santa can't make a promise to a child that he/she will get what they ask for. But certainly there had to be a better answer than that. Had it been any other child, I think her hopes would have been dashed away. Is this what we wait in line to see Santa for? Heck, I could have done that!

If asking for a kitten for Christmas isn't do-able, then what else isn't do-able? I wrote my own Christmas list and it went something like this:

Dear Santa,
I've been thinking of all the things I've seen on TV lately from watching the Christmas specials, and I've been listening to all the Christmas songs too, and this is what I want for Christmas:

[Note: See if you can name all the references I make in this blog. If you want to see if you got them all, send me your answers to and I'll check the list. Heck, I might even check it twice. Good luck!]

  • I want someone to cook me Roast Beast with a side of razzleberry dressing, oh and bring me some figgy pudding.

  • I want a button that I can press when I want to dumpit to crumpit.

  • I want snow, SNOW, SNOW.

  • I want a cowboy who rides an ostrich. Horses are too big and my yard is too small for a horse. So this would work out great.

  • I want a christmas tree that when one ornament is hung on it, it bends over, yet a few kids hands and a blanket can transform it into a beautiful decorated tree. Hark! I just heard a bell. I DO believe.

  • I want the Heat Miser to live with me during the winter months and then kick him out and have his brother, the Snow Miser to move in during the summer months. Or is it the other way around?

  • I want my heart to grow three times its size, not my butt.

  • I want a silent night so we can rest, ye merry gentlemen, and take a long nap somewhere away in a manger. If only that darn ruh puh puh puhmming would stop.

  • I want a hippopotamus; a hula hoop; a goomba donkey; and a set of new glasses for near-sighted Grandma so she doesn't get run over.

  • Hmm. What else. I already have front teeth so I don't need that.

  • As a non-violent person, I want peace for everyone. I don't want to deck anyone (especially the Halls, they're such nice people); I don't want to shoot someone's eye out; I don't want to call anyone a ho, ho, ho.

  • I want everyone to be joyful AND trumpet. No that's not it. Triumphant. Yeah, let's all be triumphant this year.

  • I want my mother to stop making out with Santa. (Tramp.)

  • I would appreciate it if everyone would stop roasting my chestnuts. What kind of liquor is "yournose" that Jack is nipping on? And can I give it to those kids that are finding it hard to sleep? Or is that against the law?

  • No offense Santa, but could you please stop staring at me while I'm sleeping. You know when I'm awake. It creeps me out. (Stalker)

  • I don't want to run into any ex-lovers in the grocery store or go drinking in the parking lot with them.

  • I want you to send calendars to all the boys and girls in Africa so they DO know that it's Christmas time. Seems like a simple enough solution.

  • I want more excitement in my life so that lovely pine tree branches aren't the only thing that thrill me.

  • I want to get blitzened, then dasher and prancer around, donnering my apron and that's all, like a real vixen. Although all that dashering could make me sick and then I'll end up scrubbing the floor with Comet.

  • I want to roll up my green sleeves and go to elf practice and sing "We build Santa's shelves".

  • I want the Bergermeister Meisterberger to declare the law of no toys outside of my daughters' room.

  • I want a hat that when you put it on certain people's heads, they come alive with glee, especially if they are normally cold and stoic. The hat would turn them into warm, fun-loving people. Pipe optional. Although, maybe it's not the hat at all. Maybe it's what is in the pipe that makes them giddy. Legalization of either hats or corncob pipes. So what if their eyes get dilated like two lumps of coal?

  • I want to go a wassailing. I don't know what that is, but it just sounds fun.

  • I want a jingle bell rock. My yard is full of rocks, but something about a jingle bell rock appeals to me.

  • I want to put one foot in front of the other. I need more exercise.

  • I want a voice to answer mine back, but not like one that if I said "I'm an idiot" the voice would answer back "You're an idiot, you're an idiot, you're an idiot."

  • I want to see heaven and nature sing...maybe on the next American Idol.

  • I want to find a girl named Virginia and say no, just for the heck of it.

  • Oh, who am I kidding? All these things and when it comes down to it, all I really want is silver and gold.


I hope this got your brain cells working, and maybe you even got a chuckle over some of them. I hope so.

My Kaneclusion this week is there are people in the world that bring you joy. Embrace those people, because they will not be around forever. If someone makes you laugh, it's the greatest gift they can give you. Cherish it, for it is rare. If you don't believe me, you will know what I mean when they are gone.

I tend to agree with my daughter that Santa was pulling her leg, unfortunately for me. That son of another Santa is going to bring her a freakin' kitten, I just know it. Another 20 years of fleas navidad.

So don't let anyone steal your joy. Not even Santa!

Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens understood loneliness surrounding the holidays. In 1843, Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol". So many of us can relate to this tale on one level or another. The characters are all tragic but how they deal with life's experiences are vastly different. There is no greater time but around the holidays to feel lonely. Dickens captured this feeling simply by demonstrating how, due to all the previous pain and hurts the character endures in his life, inevitably he builds walls around himself, turning the main character into a lonely old man from pushing away family and friends. I believe it's self-protection, but he fails to see how his actions impact others.

Generally speaking, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old fool who lives alone, who says "bah humbug" to the holidays. All he cares about is his business and the profits. He has one employee, Bob Cratchit, who has a family he needs to support, and a child, Tiny Tim, who has a life-threatening disability. Poor Bob Cratchit puts up with Scrooge's stinginess and inflexibility around the holidays because he needs the paycheck. Bob is a good family man. He can't tell Scrooge to go screwge himself. So he makes the best of his situation. Jacob Marley, Scrooge's business partner dies. He pays a penance for how he lived his life by being weighed down by chains for all eternity. He comes to Scrooge in the form of a ghost to warn him of the other ghosts that will be paying Scrooge a visit. After seeing all the mistakes he has made during the course of his life, and seeing how those mistakes have an impact on his and other's futures, Scrooge is reborn and sees the error of his ways. His life changes the very next day when he awakens from his dream and his transformation of change begins.

Whether you like this story or not, so many versions of it have been told through the years and it's hard not to like at least one version of it. There have been movies like Scrooged with Bill Murray, which put a funny and more current spin on the tale. There have been plays, tv specials, and books that have all adapted the story line. Recently, we went to see The Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. If you are thinking about seeing this film, save your money and spend it instead on a DVD of your favorite Christmas special. I brought my 9 year old thinking that it might be a little scary but that she could handle it. How bad could it be with funny man Jim Carrey playing Scrooge, right? I was wrong. It was VERY dark, and no humor whatsoever, unless you find bonking someone on the head funny. People did laugh at that particular part, but only because they were craving a laugh.

We drove to the Imax theater in Providence because they have the best theater for seeing 3-d movies. The floor to ceiling screen makes one feel that they are IN the film. In the absence of The Polar Express no longer playing at the IMAX in 3-d, which was a tradition for my family to go every year, we went to see The Christmas Carol, hoping to start another family tradition and somehow replacing The Polar Express. I wasn't optimistic because we all love The Polar Express when it played there. As anticipated, we were all very disappointed and there will be no return visits. Why they stopped showing The Polar Express is beyond me. The theater was always packed every year. It's things like this that I don't understand. Can someone explain this to me?

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, A carol is a festive song, generally religious but not necessarily connected with church worship, and often with a dance-like or popular character. In the new Jim Carrey version, there is little song to be had. At the end, Andrea Bocelli sings "God Bless Us Everyone". But what a missed opportunity for other popular artists to create a great song track for the movie. Although, I am grateful that Disney did not choose Miley Cyrus to sing anything in it. I think I would have had to stand up and walk out.

My daughter didn't enjoy the movie because it was written in old English style and I kept having to translate what things meant. A lot of thousts, shants, etc.

Anyway, during my boredom in the theater, watching unnecessary scenes that were depicted only for the 3-d effects for making the movie a thrill ride, but lacked story line, I thought about another version of The Christmas Carol and how simple it was when I was a kid. The one I am referring to, which is my personal favorite rendition of this tale, is and always will be, Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol. It aired on TV for the first time in 1962. I'm not old enough to remember its debut, but I watched it every year during the holiday season as a repeat that the TV broadcast stations would air for Christmas specials. As a little trivia, this cartoon Christmas special was the very first cartoon special ever. It was such a hit that it opened the door for other classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. All the joy we got from watching these classics we owe to Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Back when I was a kid, you couldn't buy the dvd, dvds weren't invented yet, nor was the VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) and you couldn't tivo shows to watch them when you had time or to watch a show over and over again. The only opportunity we got to watch the Christmas specials were to watch them the ONE time they were on TV, on the date and time listed in the TV Guide magazine that was delivered to the house by subscription or by picking it up at the supermarket on the stand by the check out. We had to look up in the magazine when shows would be on. The shows were listed by day then by hour. If you wanted to know when All in the Family was on, you had to know it was on Sunday night and then look through the times and know what station/channel it might be on. It would give a brief description of what the show would be about. (My favorite part of the TV Guide was the crossword puzzle. We would fight over who would get to do it.)

I think we had to pay closer attention to TV much more back then because if you missed something, you had to wait a year to see it again. Yes, an entire YEAR. No repeats in the schedule. Hard for younger folks to imagine that. And yet in seeing it only once per year, we remembered the lyrics of the songs. There was no internet to look up lyrics or download the songs from. No "links" to click on to gather information from. No. You remembered the songs all from memory from hearing it once or twice. Even the AM/FM radio stations didn't play the songs from the Christmas Specials. The first time I remember seeing songs from Rudolph was on a cassette tape and that was in the early 80's. Before that, the only time you heard those songs was strictly on the TV when the shows aired. And yet, are there baby boomers that don't know the song "Why am I such a misfit, I am not just a nitwit, you can't fire me I quit, seems I don't fit in." Remarkable.

Anyway, back to Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol. I liked it because in one hour it gets right to the point. It's a cartoon that starts off with Mister Magoo playing the role of Scrooge in a play on Broadway. (Trivia Question: What was Mister Magoo's first name? In The Christmas Carol, his name flashes on the marquee above the theater that he is to perform in. Answer will be at the end of this blog.) The play starts with Scrooge counting coins, while Bob Cratchit sits at his desk, wearing his scarf and shivering in the cold, with only a candle to give him light and warmth. Scrooge sings, "Ringle, ringle, coins when they mingle, make such a lovely sound". Scrooge rejoices in his profits and is proud of himself for managing to avoid donating to charity. Bob Cratchit tries to acquire a lump of coal from the coal bin in the office, seeing as it's Christmas Eve and all, but Scrooge tells him he has already had his share of coal for the day. Christmas Eve is no different than any other day to Scrooge. Scrooge threatens Bob with his job and since Cratchit is the breadwinner for his family, he can't afford to lose it. So he shivers and conforms to the cold. They do a brief duet, one singing about how rich he is with all his tuppens and gold, the other singing about how he is cold.

Upon leaving work for the day, Scrooge says that he will see Cratchit in the morning. Cratchit respectfully reminds him that tomorrow is Christmas Day. Scrooge replies with "And I suppose you want the WHOLE day off then?" Even though Scrooge treats Cratchit horribly, he still wishes his employer a very merry Christmas, in which Scrooge replies "Bah Humbug!"

Have you ever known anyone likes this? I have. You try to be their friend and all they do is sneer at you. Cratchit is a forgiving soul and forgives Scrooge for what he does. Cratchit feels sorry for him because, after all, he may have money, but he is all alone. Cratchit, on the other hand, is poor and can barely make ends meet, but he has the riches of love from his family and is happy. The two men don't understand each other and dividing lines are drawn.

The one part that is missing in this rendition is the absence of Scrooge's nephew, Scrooge's only family member alive. I assume it's due to time constraints of having to fit the entire story into a one hour time block plus allowing time for commercials. The story doesn't suffer for not having that part in it.

Scrooge goes home and is visited by Jacob Marley, his business partner, who has passed away. He comes by way of a ghost and his face appears in the doorknocker. As a kid, I was so afraid of that scene. It's the first scene of a ghost coming and it's so scary that even Mr Magoo's eyes open wide. It's the first time that his eyes are not actual slits depicted by just a thin line by the cartoonist. If nothing else, this scene proves that Mister Magoo has real eyes! Anyway, Jacob tries to get his dear friend to change his ways before it's too late, before Scrooge has to spend eternity in shackles as well. He warns Scrooge that ghosts will be coming to pay him a visit. But Scrooge doesn't believe him and retires to his empty bed to sleep.

At the stroke of one, the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives. In the book and in most versions, the Ghost of Christmas Past comes first. But not in Magoos and I don't know why. The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit's house to bear witness to the happiness and love that takes place there. Scrooge can't understand it. On the measly wages he is paying Bob, how can they be this happy? It is also foretold by the ghost that if the Cratchit's circumstances don't change, the baby of the family, Tiny Tim, will die.

Although the holidays are very sad and trying for some, and the suicide rate is usually up around the holidays, I believe that anyone can change their circumstance if they want to. I submit to you one of the songs from "Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol". It's probably the saddest song ever written for a holiday cartoon, but very poignant and relatable if you've ever spent a holiday alone. Or have been alone period. Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. This ghost is depicted with blond shoulder-length hair, and a flame over its head. It is unclear in the cartoon whether this ghost is a girl or a boy. A type of "Pat" character from Saturday Night Live. Non-gender specific. If the ghost is a boy, he is rather feminine. I wonder if this is where the derogatory label of calling an effeminate man "a flame" came from? Ok, so you don't have that image in your head for the rest of this article, let's say the Ghost of Christmas Past was a girl. She takes Scrooge, the man, to see the childhood Scrooge in his loneliness as a child. It's the first hint of getting to see why Scrooge gets to be the grumpy old man he turned out to be. It's also the first time that he exhibits any kind of compassion. He tries to comfort the poor young boy, the child within himself, and we get to see why he is the way he is, adding a bit more understanding of the character. Jim Backus, who plays the part of Mister Magoo both in the Christmas special and on the TV show that aired during that era on a weekly basis, sings the song with such raw emotion, that one can't help but feel sorry for him.

"A hand for each hand was meant for the world, why don't my fingers reach?
Millions of grains of sand in the world, why such a lonely beach?
Where is the voice to answer mine back?
Where are two shoes that click to my clack?
I'm all alone in the world."

Also, it is this ghost that shows Ebenezer the joys of his ex-employer from his youth who threw a Christmas party and how happy the employees were. She also shows Ebenezer the love of his life, Belle, who broke off their engagement because of Ebenezer's changed morals and because she felt that she had been replaced by Scrooge's love of gold. The young couple in the past can't hear the older Scrooge's pleas and begging for Belle not to leave. A heart-wrenching moment for the elder Scrooge.

The fourth ghost appears to Scrooge in the form of the Grim Reaper. The Ghost of Christmas Future. Eerily, this is the only ghost that does not speak, but rather just points with a long, bony finger indicating what life will become if things do not change. Scrooge gets to witness the charwoman, undertaker, and laundress that have stolen his belongings to trade in for gold. One of the darkest, yet funniest songs in the whole cartoon is The Plunderer's March. As a kid, we thought the name of the song was the La,la,la,la,la,la song. Great lyrics like "We're reprehensible. We'll steal your pen & pencible" and "We're just blankety blank blank, no good."

The Ghost of Things To Come takes him to the Cratchit's house, where the family is distraught over their loss of Tiny Tim, indicated by an empty stool with Tiny Tim's crutch leaning against the fireplace. Enough to make me cry as a child. Poor Tiny Tim. Scrooge begins to see the error of his ways. But it doesn't sink in until he faces his own immortality by visiting his grave site and begins to make promises of change.

He awakens on Christmas day full of glee. He buys the biggest turkey for the Cratchits and has it delivered anonymously. He hands out green bags of coins to the lad who got the turkey, to the charity he denied the night before, and to the Cratchits, along with a raise for Bob. He gives Tiny Tim pony rides on his back. He is a new man.

The cartoon closes with the cast on stage taking bows in front of the audience. But mysteriously, or maybe symbolicly, the Ghost of Christmas Future, the Grim Reaper, is missing from the lineup on the stage.

My Kaneclusion: Whether you like Charles Dickens or The Christmas Carol story or not, there is a good moral to it. The nice thing about being human, and still being alive, is we have the capacity to change our circumstances at any time we want. If you are alone this holiday season, maybe it's time to make some changes in your life. Maybe it's time to give, rather than take. Maybe a little compassion and understanding would go a long way. Maybe it's time to tear down the walls that you have built up around yourself and let others in. Maybe instead of centering everything around yourself, maybe this year you could wish others peace and prosperity instead. And if not today, then There's always tomorrow.... Oh no wait, that song is from Rudolph. But I love that song too! My second favorite Christmas Special. Maybe next week's blog will be examining the messed up relationship between Rudolph and his father who makes him wear a black cover on his nose to cover up his nonconformity because he's afraid of what his friends will say and think. Oh, so many parallels to be drawn there!

Trivia Answer: Quincy was Mr. Magoo's first name. More trivia: Along with Jim Backus of Gilligan's Island fame, Morey Amsterdam, the actor that played the writer on the Dick Van Dyke Show, has a role as one of the voices. Jack Cassidy, the father of David Cassidy of the Partridge Family fame, plays a voice as well.

To see "Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol", do a search on and start with part 1 (8 parts in all).

Every Child is Precious

Have you ever been in a situation where you witnessed a parent so stupid that you felt compelled to step in and protect a child from their own parent? I’ve witnessed this a few times and have come to the conclusion, or Kaneclusion, that certain people should not be allowed to procreate.

Case in point. About a year ago, we were at a show in an arena. A man was standing with his three year old daughter by the railing on the stairs that overlooked the below section. The little girl kept climbing on the railing, while the father was on his cell phone, not paying attention. All the adults were sitting on the edge of their seats watching this, waiting for the girl to fall through the railing, imagining her plummeting to the below section to her death. While everyone watched, one man out of at least 200 onlookers, got out of his seat, walked up to the little girl and swooped her up in his arms and handed her to her father and said, “Watch your little girl!” The father, annoyed that he had to put down his cell phone, took it as a complete blow to his ego, and started to yell at the guy and told him to keep his hands off his daughter. If you can fathom this, the father was angry that someone else was protecting his daughter. Instead of thanking the stranger for keeping his daughter out of harms way, he started yelling at the guy. It almost came to blows. My friend ran to get security who came and calmed the situation down. But at one point, it was almost as if the father was going to put his daughter on the railing again just to prove a point.

One man was a hero, and I told him so. He did what the rest of us wanted to do but we didn’t have the guts to get involved. The other man, the father, should not have had children because he didn’t know how precious his little girl was and took it all for granted. In an instant, his whole world, and his little girl’s world, could have changed. Which raises the question, at what point is it okay to step in to protect children from their own parents.

This weekend, I went with a friend to see the movie, Precious. Wait, let’s back up for a moment. Before that, I had seen interviews on TV with the actors of this movie and knew the context before considering going to see it. It wasn’t in my top ten movies to see because of the subject matter. Typically when I go to the movies, I want to be entertained. I either want to laugh, be inspired in some way, or cry. A movie is an escape for me from my everyday life and I generally don’t like coming out of the theater more depressed or upset than when I went in. So I’m not the type to go see slasher movies or gang banger movies. But the friend that I was going to the movies with had Precious on her “must see” list. Since it was her turn to pick the movie, it was one of the choices for the evening. I thought I was in the clear when it wasn’t playing anywhere locally. But as luck would have it, it was playing in Hartford and I happened to have a babysitter for the entire evening. Without a good excuse, all things were pointing in favor of her dragging me to go see it. How bad could it be, right? If I go to this movie with her, then I get to pick next time and then we can go see The Christmas Carol, something a little more up my alley. Fair enough. I conceded.

I knew that it was going to be a deeply disturbing movie. The main character, Precious, is an obese, illiterate teenager who endures life in Harlem. She survives incest and molestation by the hands of her father, with the outcome producing two children. The movie centers around her tumultuous relationship with her mother and what she does to try to better her life. That much I knew before going in. Lighthearted, it wasn’t going to be. But I’m an adult and I could take it. I kept telling myself that other people had sat through it so it couldn’t be that bad. No big deal. It’s just a movie. I’ll watch it then forget about it. I’m in it for the popcorn.

When we got to the Cineplex, the theater that the movie was playing in was packed and all the stadium seats were taken. We ended up grabbing two seats up front where it was less crowded. During the previews, even the seats up front rapidly started filling up. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is, a packed theater indicates that a movie is good. I started to feel better about being there, under the notion that it must be a good movie if so many people were there to see it.

The last preview played. My friend and I settled into our seats and waited for the show to start. The true horror of the evening, something I had not anticipated, was just about to begin for me.

“Precious.” A word meaning dear; beloved. It also means having high cost; valuable; or excessively delicate.

In the dark of the theater, in walked a mother and her two children who sat in the row diagonally in front of us. I sized the boy up to be around my daughter’s age, 8-9years old. The girl was probably 4 years old. I looked at my friend and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Isn’t this film rated R?” I was in complete disgust, but was giving the mother the benefit of the doubt that surely they wandered into the wrong theater and will figure it out soon enough. They’ll leave once the mother figures out the horrible mistake she’s made, that this wasn’t Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

The movie started. In the first five minutes there is an onslaught of bad language and physical abuse which takes place between Precious and her mother. I looked at the boy’s face that was in front of me. He was looking back and forth at the screen, and then looking at his mother. I interpreted this to mean he was looking for some kind of reassurance from her or some kind of acknowledgement that it was okay that he was watching this violent exchange. I witnessed the shock on the little boy’s face during the flashback scenes of the character’s father raping his teenage daughter. It was bigger than life on the big screen. The mother sitting in front of me, ignoring her son while he paid close attention to every gory detail, was wrapped up in the movie so much that she never glanced once at either of her children to see how they were handling it. The details of each scene permeating these children’s precious minds, and was no doubt shaping the way they will think in the future, but to what end is yet to be determined.

I tried my hardest to ignore that they were sitting in front of me but couldn’t. I was totally preoccupied with these tiny little people absorbing this information into their brains and visualizing what kind of messed up lives they must have to be in that theater. I had a growing contempt and fury for the mother, with her three-inch hollow puffy gold, over-the-top square earrings, and her hair weave. What stupidity and selfishness on her part. To subject her kids to what was clearly adult content to satisfy her own immediate need made me quiver with anxiety coupled with hatred.

At every horrifying clip in the movie, at every violent action, at every sexually revealing segment, I watched the boy’s face, his mouth gaped open, his wide-eyed whites of his eyes glistening in the dark, in shock like a deer in headlights. He didn’t speak, but rather was transfixed on the movie screen. The little girl, three quarters of the way through, lost interest and started playing with her hair band. Thank God! Thank God for the act of boredom to act as protection. The mother, absolutely oblivious to the fact that this might harm her children, sitting there engrossed in the movie, shoving her face with popcorn. I question if she even knew her kids were there at all.

Unlike most of the other people in the theater, who were openly gasping at the constant abuse the character endured in her life, I was totally absorbed in listening and watching the victimization through the eyes of the children in front of me. Yes. The movie was disturbing. There is no doubt that the characters symbolize the non-perfect world of growing up in a rough neighborhood, and being subjected to things that children should not be subjected to. But what is worse? Watching a movie on the big screen where actors are merely portraying cringy moments of a mother continuously choosing not to protect her child, and acting out how she subjects her child to the horrors that life has to offer? Or sitting directly in back of a mother who would bring her grammar school-aged children to watch a movie like that? I watched, like I did the movie, a mother who did not protect her children and offered no consolation to her children, right in front of me. It was art imitating life! And it took everything in my being not to open my normally big mouth.

When the movie first started, I still was giving this woman in front of me some type of benefit of the doubt in my head like, “well, this is just the beginning and maybe it’s not as bad as the critics and tv shows made it out to be. Maybe there is a redeeming message that this mother wants her children to learn and I’m being too hard on her.” As the movie unfurls, however, the answer to all my doubts is an unequivocal NOT! Without giving away the end, I would say in the last 1 minute of the movie there is a redeeming moment. However, does one subject their child to 108 minutes of pure evil to get to the one minute of redemption?

I wanted to say something to this woman when the movie ended but my friend said don’t bother. She was probably right.

Ironically, the same thing happened to me when I went to see the The Passion of the Christ. Again, I was prepared and ready to be horrified. What I wasn’t prepared for was to watch the movie through the eyes of the child sitting in front of me whose parent thought it would be a good catholic lesson for his child to see the blood and gore of scourging! I was completely disgusted at the parent then as I was this past weekend. I want to scream from the rooftops to these parents, “What are you thinking?” With a follow up question of “Where do you send your children to school so I can make sure my kids don’t come in contact with your kids, who will inevitably need help due to your lack of being able to make proper judgments!!!”

Was the movie, Precious good, you ask? Who knows. I know two children and I are 3 people in the world that didn’t think so. Although, under other circumstances, I might have thought so. I should have come out of the theater talking about the tragedy of what I just saw on the screen. But instead found myself discussing how some people should not have kids and how terribly irresponsible it was for that parent to bring her children to the theater to see an R-Rated film.

A part of me feels like a failure in the respect that I said nothing to the parent in front of me in the theater. I said nothing. And in my silence, like all the other people in the theater, we condoned her bringing her children to an R-Rated film. I don’t know how many, if any at all, people in the theater were bothered by it like I was. But I assure you that nobody said anything to her about it. There is a fine line between being a coward and being rational. I rationalized it, thinking that as parents we have the right to make decisions for our own kids. But I think I was wrong. I should have spoken up. I could have complained to the management of the theater. But I didn’t, due to my own fear of retribution. I didn’t because I didn’t want to cause a scene

My Kaneclusion is that having kids is precious. Their minds are precious little sponges that absorb everything. What parents put into those sponges is what those children will become. In the computer world we have a saying “Garbage in Garbage out.” In the movie Precious, the character is told from the day she is born that she is nothing. In the movie, of course, she improves her life overcoming the insurmountable odds making something of herself. But in real life, is that really the case for children who are abused, tormented, belittled, and left to the evil of the world with nobody protecting them? It begs the question, if you ever witnessed a mother treating her daughter the way that the character did in this movie, would you have the gumption, the nerve, the moral fiber to stand up, jump in and protect the child being abused. If you asked me that question last week, I would have said, “Hell yeah, I would get involved.” But I didn’t, did I.

I hope that if you go see this movie, if there are kids in the audience, that you remember this blog. Maybe you will have more courage than I did to act. Let the benefit of my hindsight lead you to complain to the Theater Manager. R-Rated is not Parental Guidance. It means Restricted. Period. Wished I had thought of it while I was sitting there, missing a movie I never wanted to go see in the first place.

So Many Things to Be Thankful For, Even the Crap

Rachel's Thankful List (verbatim)

  1. I am thankful to have Mommy.
  2. I am thankful to have Dianne.
  3. I am thankful that I have friends.
  4. I am thankful for the clean air.
  5. I am thankful for my house and food.
  6. I am thankful for the electricity.
  7. I am thankful for my bed.
  8. I am glad there are second chances.
  9. I am thankful for my school.
  10. I am thankful for my hearing aids - I would be learning sign language without them.
  11. I am thankful for all the clothes that I have.
  12. I am thankful that the dreams I made came or is coming true.
  13. I am thankful that I have the ability to do many things.
  14. I am thankful that we are all happy, well-fed, healthy and together.
  15. I am thankful for the toys and books that I own.
  16. I am thankful for our family's warmth when needed.
  17. I am thankful for the extra classes my parents payed for to have fun.
  18. I am thankful for my dollter, Sarah Jane Kane (American Girl Doll)
  19. I am thankful for the privacy of my room.
  20. I am thankful for not only electricity but technology.
  21. I am thankful for the fun stuff I get to do.
  22. I am thankful for music.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would write a little bit about what I have been thankful for this year. It seems to me that when the holidays start to come around, everyone gets wrapped up in trying to figure out who is eating where, who’s cooking what, who’s avoiding who, what am I going to wear, when is my mammogram scheduled for. Alright, maybe we all aren’t thinking about that last one. But it does seem that we tend to lose the meaning of the holiday.

It is tradition in my family that while I’m cooking and slaving over the stove, everyone has to make a list of the things they are thankful for during the year (i.e., a tv so we can watch the Macy’s parade. You might think it's petty to be thankful for something like that, but do you know how many people DON'T have that?) Rachel's is above. Which, by the way, she got no guidance or tips on. Those are purely her own thoughts. I loved it because as much as she's still a little girl her list has depth. What child says she is thankful for technology? Or warmth when it is needed?

I make a list too, in between basting the turkey and whipping the potatoes. Mine always ends up looking grease splattered and stained. It’s not pretty, but it’s full of meaning. Inevitably, I always end up adding a last minute item on the list that reads “I am thankful that the dinner is done cooking, I didn’t burn the gravy, and now we can eat.” Something I am perpetually grateful for. Thank God my mother taught me how to cook. I think my family is grateful to her for that as well. I think they should be thankful to ME for paying close attention to what she was doing all those years that she did the cooking. But I guess that will occur to them someday.

I had an extraordinarily rough year this year. Although, now that the year is coming to an end and I look back, many good things came from those rough times. So my list this year will be quite extensive for the things I am grateful for. I’d like to share some of those things with you in this blog. (I have to leave some things out for my stuffing-covered list that I read to my family during dinner. Sorry folks. Unless, of course, you want to invite us all over to YOUR house for Thanksgiving and you can be included in on the good ones I list for them? No? Any takers? I’ll bring dessert! Stott’s Pie! Come on!)

2009 The Shit and the Potatos That Grew From It

One Potato

I had a rough, rough, rough year this year professionally. Albeit, some of you had a rougher year by losing your jobs, getting laid off due to this tough economy. To you, I say that better things are coming your way. When one door closes, another one opens. I’ve been laid off three times in my life and every time it happened, it was devastating but something better always came along. So keep the faith, all of you that are unemployed and struggling to find a job. Try to remember that things could always be worse.

Without going into too much detail about the rough, rough year I had this year at work, I hope I can wrap it up into a brief paragraph. If I can’t, well, you have nothing better to do than to read this blog anyway. So stop rushing me. Here goes. A woman was hired into my department and the day she started, her goal was to wreak havoc. I can’t go into too much detail because I never know who is reading this blog. But she did something at work that she wasn’t supposed to. She got in trouble for it. In retaliation she filed complaints on everyone else, pointing the finger at everyone else around her, hoping that her offenses would be taken more lightly. There were investigations that followed, both internally, and externally with the FBI. I was interrogated several times and had to submit a statement. Lots of innocent people were involved in what turned out to be quite the scandal. The end result was my director at the time found another job and left; a co-worker took a lay-off that was offered to him and he too left; another co-worker transferred to another department. The woman that caused all the drama was terminated but threatened to fight it, meaning the saga was never going to end.

If there could be anything that I could be grateful for that came out of this experience is that she ultimately lost her job and is now in another state, far, far away, where she can no longer hurt anyone I know professionally. The experience was so emotionally draining that, although we were all friends before this woman joined our group, none of us speak anymore. I’m not grateful for that by any means. But I know that time will heal the wounds that were inflicted during that rough time and maybe someday all of us can look back at this unfortunate series of events and possibly laugh.

I am thankful that I still have my job and I came out relatively unscathed. I am thankful that the others are happy and have moved on with their careers. There was a time when everything was up in the air and I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, whether I would get fired, whether I would get transferred to another department; whether the nightmare would ever end. But my new boss has been great to work for. I’m thankful that I actually ended up on my feet.

Two Potato

I had a horrendous accident 5 years ago while on the first day of my vacation in Cape Cod. The story is too long to tell here. But a few details were that I was stopped at a yield onto a highway and was broad-sided by a vehicle. Rachel was sitting behind me in the car and was hit as well. Our car was pushed sideways into guardrails. Once the cars settled, Rachel, who was 3 at the time, started screaming. I tried to turn around to see what happened to her but couldn’t turn due to being pinned between the door and the console. Plus I had a sharp pain in my back that prevented me from turning around. The rear view mirror had fallen off the broken windshield from the impact so I couldn’t see her through that either. She was screaming and I couldn’t see what had happened to her. I pictured the worst. Her arm severed off, her head bashed in, my imagination ran wild. To make a long story short, she had a few minor cuts and bruises and escaped being seriously hurt because of her car seat. I always had my car seats and any car she drove in inspected by the CT Safe Kids Clinics at the hospital and was thankful that I did. It saved her life. I did a news segment on TV about it because CT Safe Kids asked me to when they found out about the accident. If doing a segment on the news got only one parent to have their car seat inspected and saved only one child, it was worth doing it.

I, on the other hand, had to be extricated from the car. They tried using the jaws of life but to no avail. They had to cut the roof off the car and extricate me from the roof while being on a backboard. The nearest hospital was an hour away. I rode in the ambulance to the hospital not knowing my fate. The longest ride of my life.

Making a long story short, for five years I endured physical therapy, shots, emotional anguish from reliving the horror of the accident, I lost time from work, and I live with pain every day due to that accident. That’s the very short story.

Why am I bringing up an accident that happened five years ago? THIS year we finally went to court to sue the man who actually hit us. We had to go to Cape Cod, MA five years to the day of the accident and testify against him. We knew for years that we had to go to court, but it wasn’t until the week before, that my lawyer told us we couldn’t bring kids into the courtroom. Stressful to say the least, especially since Rachel had never stayed away from me for more than one night, I wasn’t about to leave her indefinitely while we went to Cape Cod for an indeterminate amount of time for the trial! Frantically, I called the Cape Cod YMCA Camp in Hyannis. With Rachel, I can’t just drop her off at any old place just like that. Staff have to be instructed on how her hearing aids work, etc. But they took her in and took great care of her. I am thankful for them and their staff for making accommodations for Rachel. She loved it! And I was able to focus on the trial of the century knowing she was being well cared for.

The trial itself was a nightmare. I had to relive all the gory details of the accident, which traumatized me all over again. I had to go through all my medical history worrying about whether I was going to remember everything. In a word it was torture. The trial lasted 4 days. A jury of my peers were tasked with deciding whether the man who hit me was negligent or not. I was stopped at the yield so it was never a question of whether I was at fault. The lawyer for the other side conceded that. Once both lawyers rested, the jury of my peers were handed a stack load of papers to review in the jury room to reach a decision on whether or not: someone speeding through an intersection that had a blinking yellow light who didn’t slam on his brakes because there were no skid marks on the road, who lost control of his vehicle, was negligent or not. The jury left the room with specific instructions and what they were to do and not to do. Fifteen minutes later, they came back in, announcing that they, the jury, did not find the driver of the other car negligent. They took fifteen minutes to decide my fate. Granted, the man that hit me was from Cape Cod, I wasn’t. The jury, comprised of Cape Cod residents, viewed us as tourists. And granted, that the woman in the back row in the jury box slept through most of it. And granted, the insurance company lawyer could afford an accident reconstructionist and hired the Chief of the Quincy Medical Center at $500 per hour to testify against us.

Bottom line, we lost. It was a painful experience that I hope I NEVER have to go through again. I’m not sure what was worse. The actual accident, or the trial.

But here is what I am thankful for this year from that experience. 1) That we are all alive and able to tell the tale. There were times while I was trapped in that car, smelling leaking gas, with responders not being able to get me out, that I didn’t think I was going to make it. I had a talk with God and promised that I would get my priorities in order if he pulled me through that event. I can tell you that in the time I sat there while people worked around me to try to get me out and on the ride to the hospital not knowing if I had internal injuries that were life-threatening or not, I had plenty of time to think. Before this accident, my priorities were different. Such as I worked hard on renovating my house. I focused on my career. Friends were disposable and exchangeable. This accident changed all that for me. In the moments that I thought I might be dying, I never once thought about the things I had to do to my house, or my house at all for that matter. No material things came into mind. I never once thought about my career or the promotion I was trying so desperately to get. All I DID think about were the people in my life. That if this was it, if I was dying, how much they would miss me and how much I would miss them. It was people’s faces that came into my mind, not the things I thought were important before. That all made me have a new outlook on life. They say that near death experiences change people. This one surely did! Now, if I have a paintbrush in my hand and a friend calls me to go out and do something, I drop the paintbrush. The house can wait. It’s not important. The friend is. Now I am trying to cultivate friendships with people that understand that life can be taken away in a fraction of a second.

I am thankful for Dianne who was also in the accident with us. She not only survived the accident itself, but got Rachel out of the car successfully during the accident to show me that Rachel was alright. We survived having to go through all of the heartache that the accident brought on for both of us. She survived the trial with me, which at times it would have been real easy to point the finger at each other, but we survived that as well, coming out the other end closer for having had to go through the experience together. I am thankful that I had her to laugh with, to cry with, when nothing was going right or in our favor. For having her give me no other option than to get back in my car and drive again when emotionally and psychologically I didn’t think I would ever drive again. Although we both got physically hurt and will live with the pain for the rest of our lives, I am thankful that we both still can walk, talk, do the rake dance, and do things with my kids. When you’re sitting in a car not being able to feel your legs or feet, believe me, you appreciate all those things that weren’t taken away in that instant. I could be very angry indeed over the outcome of the trial. I could be very angry over the amount of money and time this all took up. But instead, since it is Thanksgiving, I am choosing to be thankful for all the experiences it gave to me. It changed my life, just like any other traumatic event does. But it also taught me a whole heck of lot. And for that I’m grateful!

Three Potato, Four

I am thankful for the friends that came into my life this year all so briefly and then exited again. As disruptive as these quick relationships are, they are all learning experiences. Some harder to understand than others, but I am thankful that we were able to reconnect, even if only for a short amount of time. In those short times, they gave me a wealth of material for my blog and stories to tell for the rest of my life. So I am grateful to you for that, in an off kind of way.

I am grateful to Facebook, to which I have become completely addicted. Facebook opened up so many more doors for me to make new friends and to release my creative side. I am even thankful to those that have deleted me on Facebook. They taught me how to be more sensitive to how to go about deleting a person. As much as it is frustrating at times, that people still let you down, that it can be trying at times, I still am thankful for this new social networking tool because, let’s face it, most of you reading this right now would not be, if it wasn’t for Facebook. Can I get an Amen on that!

Generally speaking, I am thankful for my children who bring me light every day. I am thankful to God for keeping them safe and out of harm’s way every day. I am thankful for the food that is on the table every night so that my kids and I don’t have to starve. This all might seem cliché, but shouldn’t we be thankful EVERY day instead of just one day a year when we’re forced to make a list or pull something off the top of our heads so we can hurry up and eat turkey?

You agree? Ok then. Thanksgiving Day is over and I’ll start. Today I am thankful for this blog. I am thankful to those of you reading it. I would be even more thankful if you clicked on some of the ads so I can get paid! But whatever, that’s secondary. I am thankful today for all the wonderful feedback I have received on this blog. It makes me happy when I get comments that I have made someone laugh, or that I actually helped others, like the time I got a comment from a friend whose aging mother came alive when reading my “In My Little Town” because it brought back memories for her. Or the fact that I can write about something and have it trigger thoughts within you of what you experienced. Or compliments containing phrases like you think I am “an excellent writer”, or “one of the best writers I know” and others. I am thankful for those comments and they touch me deeply. I am thankful for every single comment because each one has told me something about myself, or has told me something about you. And that can never be a bad thing.

My Kaneclusion is maybe you, too, should make a list, whether privately or something you would like to share with others. It helps to remind us that with all the trials and tribulations that we deal with, there are always lessons to be learned, that quite possibly good things can spring from bad seeds. That life is good, as long as we are still breathing. This holiday, try to remember that you are fortunate to have your family there with you, for next year it might not be that way.

Here was my list:

1) I'm thankful for my family, for they made me who I am today. (So if you don't like me, blame THEM, not ME!) :-)

2) I'm thankful for having somewhere to lay my head every night instead of having to be out in the cold. Even though it's a pig sty right about now. It's MY pig sty! OUR pig sty! With a whole lotta love in it! I wouldn't change a thing. (But if you got me a maid for Christmas, I wouldn't protest.)

3) I'm thankful for being able to hug my Mia goodbye before spending her first Thanksgiving away from me EVER in her life. Sniff! There's a hole in my heart that not even stuffing can fill. :-( She's here in spirit. And speaking of Spirits...where's that bottle?

4) I'm thankful for my little kitchen helper, Rachel, who diligently plucked away at stuffing bread, taking a break only to jitterbug with me in the kitchen to "Rockin' Around the Xmas Tree" (premature, yes, but she wanted to listen to Xmas music - I try to keep the help happy.) Btw, the girl can dance! Rachel is pretty good too. (And no, I hadn't hit the bottle yet.) She also did the Cranberry sauce, opening the can for the very first time with a can opener. Remember how hard that was when you were a kid? She did a great job. She also made the butter pickles for Dianne, a Thanksgiving tradition for her that makes her happy.

5) I'm thankful for my job. In an economy where others have not been so fortunate, I am grateful to MPTN for providing me an income that allows for the finer enjoyments of life. This year alone it provided experiences like trips to Las Vegas, Cape Cod, and Disney World. I couldn’t do any of those things if I wasn’t working. I am eternally grateful for that. It also provides us with health care, not something I take for granted. Albeit, stressful at times, and comes with a huge responsibility every day, I couldn't imagine losing my position. I am extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity and this path to go on in life.

6) I'm thankful for "Glee". I'm also thankful for Tivo, so I don't have to miss any shows. I'm thankful for the comfort of laying on the couch and having the ability to laugh. What a luxury that is that we take for granted!

7) I'm thankful for everyone in my house waking up Thanksgiving morning, as opposed to the alternative.

8) I'm thankful for forgiveness, that I can forgive those that have judged me, persecuted me, talked smack about me, who don't really know me or have not really gotten to know me. I forgive those who have hurt me with their actions, words and/or their silence. I forgive those that pretend to be caring individuals but when push comes to shove, they really don't care about others, just their own causes and agendas. In this same vein, I'm also thankful for those who have forgiven ME for MY trespasses. Next year I'll work on the forgetting part of the forgive and forget equation. Unfortunately, I never forget.

9) I'm thankful that we decided not to go to the Macy's parade this year and instead stayed home and watched it on the big screen, in the comfort of our own living room in our comfy jammies, with a cozy fire. Watching the tv, is it wrong that I expected to see Balloon Boy in the parade?

10) I'm thankful for Julia Child, who made it ok to have a glass of wine while cooking. And slightly off topic, what the heck did Carly Simon do to herself? Holy crap! Barely recognizable in the parade.

11) I'm thankful for my family's continued excellent health. Barring this week's flu, how fortunate I have been! I am thankful that my kids are healthy. Both my children are in good physical shape. My daughter Rachel outran all the kids in her class for the mandatory gym class stats test, of which she was very proud. She is also excelling in the jump roping class she takes. You may not think this is something, but when was the last time you jump roped? I tried it in my driveway with her and I almost broke my knees on the first jump! She can do all the double-dutch whatevers, the four point jump in and out, twist and turns and hopping on one foot. She played soccer and was an excellent forward for the team. Even though they lost every game but the last one, she was happy to be on the team and playing and it was wonderful to see her never give up, even when she got hurt twice in one game, she still kept going. She won a patch for that game because of her persistence. One of Rachel’s biggest accomplishments this year of which I am grateful for is that she learned how to ride a bike. It was touch and go there for a while. Lots of tears and frustration. But once I stopped crying, it seemed like all of a sudden, she got on her bike, held her balance for 3-4 rotations of the peddle and off she went! I am thankful for then getting a brand new bike and being able to bike ride with her.

My daughter is hearing impaired and suffers from progressive hearing loss. It is always a good year when she can hear and has not lost more hearing. She got new hearing aids this year and she loves them. The cruel twist of fate is that she is very athletic and could probably play any sport she chose and would excel in it. But because a blow to her head could cause her to have more hearing loss, I have to keep her back. I struggle with this every year when soccer comes around and I have to make the decision of whether she can play or not, based on whether I think she will be clobbered in the head by another girl or not. She loves soccer. How can I make that decision? So this year, I am thankful for a successful year for her in soccer, that she didn’t get hit in the head and my decision to let her play was a good one. As with any child with special needs, all these accomplishments seem to be more prevalent than others. As much as she has been taught that she can do ANYTHING she wants to in life and that her disability will not keep her back, it’s still remarkable that she does all these things. Sometimes I forget she has a disability, which is a blessing all unto itself.

Mia turned into a teenager this year. Thirteen. And with that came the necessary body changes that adolescence brings. She’s tall, my height, and when I talk to her now, I am face to face with her instead of looking down at the little girl I once knew. But even though she’s my height and still growing, the light in her eyes and the smile are the same as the toddler that stood up in her crib with arms extended for me to pick her up. When I hug her she is no longer a skinny little string bean, but rather a young lady that now has muscle, and curves where there weren’t any before. I’m so proud of her for embracing the beginning of what the rest of us women know we have to endure for years. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. It was a big year for Mia in this respect. Coupled with breaking up with her boyfriend, unlike me who was a blubbering idiot over it, she handled it with the utmost of grace, poise, and maintains a friendship with this young man who I still love and adore. I am thankful that it wasn’t traumatic for her and that she is learning how to handle the breakups of relationships (because they happen!) in such a positive way.

Both my girls are beautiful inside and out and I'm so proud of them. Blessed!

My health, which is secondary to my kids, is great so far. I had a scare earlier this year but the test results came back negative and all is fine. I have had the pleasure of looking at photographs via facebook of other people my age that I graduated with and find that I’m aging quite well. Thank ya’ Jesus! Although, with all the tough things that happened this year I did age a bit. I now have “laugh lines”. They are not wrinkles. If you say I have wrinkles you will no longer be able to read my blog. They are laugh lines. And I’m glad I have them because it shows on my face how often I laugh. The deeper they get the more I’m enjoying life. So there, old age! Take that!

As for everyone else in my family, all is good on the health front as well. I could tell you about all their ailments that I’ve had to listen to over the past year but I respect their privacy. Plus, I half-listened anyway. If they didn’t end up in a hospital, all is good, right? That’s how I look at it. If they weren’t transported by Lifestar, then how am I supposed to remember the stories?

We welcomed a new addition to our family this year, Janiah Kane-Butkiewicz-Williams-Vasquez-Jones-Smith! Wait until she has to fill in the bubble sheet for tests! I am thankful that she is healthy, beautiful and has come into this world to alleviate Jayden from being an only child.

12) I'm thankful today to the person who invented the electric hand mixer. And to the person who invented the pop up timer. And the people who invented paper towels? Do they ever get thanked? I think not. Anything that makes my life easier and not harder I am thankful for!

13) I'm thankful for pineapple cream pie from Stott's. And speaking of piece of pie, I'm thankful for world peace.

What? There isn't world peace?


You mean there are people not with their families today because of war?

Yes...and you're an idiot.

I've asked you not to call me an idiot...moron.

Must we fight like this in front of the kids? It is a holiday you know.

You're right. Peace.

Peace. Now eat your piece of pie.

(If only war was this simple to fix. I am thankful to our military.)

14) I'm thankful for Rachel's kindness. She pointed out yesterday the man on the street, holding his sign, "Happy Tkanksgiving. I will work for food" and said to me, "Mom, can't you give him work?" With regret, I said no, but showed her how to make a plate of food for a stranger and bring it to him. Wish I could remember to do these things every day.

15) I'm thankful for my monthly poker games. I started this 3 yrs ago as an outlet for myself, to have some time to escape from my otherwise hectic, stressful world. My idea originally was to assemble a group of diverse women who could get together to socialize, eat and share recipes, relate to one another, laugh, and if the circumstances warranted, cry together and offer support. I yearned for a way that I could leave work, legal issues and family drama behind and be wrapped up in something, if only for a couple hours a month. On the whole, it has been just that for me. Although the faces have changed over time, regardless of who is playing, poker with women is a riot. And the more mistakes the better! It gives us all something to laugh at together. Diversity is what makes the conversation flow; but poker is what brings us all together on one playing field. It's supposed to be light-hearted. Although people have been left behind and not included again for annoyng things like name-calling, giving continual grammar lessons when they weren't warranted, inability to commit from month to month. Things of that nature. It's supposed to be fun and it's not fun when people are getting picked on or are being belittled in any way. There is definitely good natured ribbing. But sometimes the ribbing goes too far. I was called the "poker nazi" one too many times one night and we haven't seen that woman again since. Of course, like any other game, there are rules, but it's not meant to be competitive. And if it gets that way, or if people start nitpicking at each other, and it stops being fun, then it becomes stressful and unenjoyable.

Typically, I have had the best time with some of these ladies over the last 3 yrs and I'm grateful for the laughs and conversations that have taken place. In my humble opinion, losing a pocketful of change at poker is some of the best money well spent. I'm appreciative to all who have come and gone through the years, and to those that know what it truly is all about.

16) I'm thankful for my friends. Dianne, who is always loyal, level-headed, quick-witted, and all-in-all my best friend. And my other friends, Jocelyne, Sheila (who puts up with me every day!), Mrs. B (she knows why!), Marian, Dominic, Dan and Bonnie (Red Cup Society Members), Carolyn, Sandy and Jodie who I knew when I was just a teenager and have reconnected with after many, many years and have found them to be delightful women. I'm sure I'm leaving people out. Please don't be insulted. It's not like I'm at the Oscar's or anything. If you've made my life better somehow in any small way, believe me, I am thankful to you.

Ok, that concludes my list. Now back to being an ingrate for the rest of the year!