The older I get, the less interested I am in getting all gussied up to go out somewhere to ring in the New Year. Fortunately, Dad shares my lackluster enthusiasm with this particular day, so we devised a plan for a mini celebration at home—just the two of us.
Today we headed to Fresh Market to buy something for dinner. After sampling a yummy cup of chocolate coffee, we began to walk aimlessly around the store because we had no plan. We started in the produce aisle with the curly zucchini and butternut squash and then headed next to the butcher counter with steaks, sausage which looked like a sad puppy dog, and concluded our tour at the counter with quinoa salad, mini meatloaves, and stuffed cabbage. Sadly, nothing jumped out and said New Year’s Eve, so we moved on.
Next we headed to Kroger, where I was positive we would find some sort of food which would say “come here, Mama,” but again, neither of us was feeling a pull toward anything at the Kroger butcher. Would we have to make a journey to Trader Joe’s tomorrow?
“Let’s try one more place,” I told Dad with a sense of hope in my voice, so we headed to good old Publix. I am happy to report that we are not going to Trader Joe’s tomorrow. We are having stuffed flank steak (stuffed with spinach and cheese), whipped sweet potatoes, homemade applesauce, and a broccoli, cauliflower, and sunflower seed salad.
Perhaps I can even get Dad to have a glass of wine. May I add that once you have gone to New Year’s Eve in Times Square, you can check this day off your “to-do list.”
“I hate kids” was a common phrase that my mother says along with “don’t spill the wine,” “in my next life I am coming back as a man,” and “shit and shinola.” (And those are just a sampling of her greatest hits.)
After the particularly short night we had on Christmas Eve this year, I’d like to give you my thoughts on her most famous saying.
I don’t hate kids. I love you all—my kids, my in-law kids, and my grandkids. I would always laugh when my mom would express her hatred of all kids because I always knew in my heart that she was joking—mostly! However, just for a few moments on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day morning this year, I shared that sentiment.
During the past few Christmases, our house has been Santa’s annex, since it would be difficult to explain the arrival of so many packages at the doorstep of a home with curious children. Both last year and this year my home has also served as Santa’s workshop since it is the perfect place to assemble some too-big-to-hide toys such as one very huge kitchen set and a three-story dollhouse.
Dad and I had to be involved in assisting Santa in transporting these gifts from our house to the house with the wee little ones. Last year, the kitchen set fit into the back of my car with just an inch to spare on either side and had to be taken into and out of the car by two very strong he-men.
This year—the year I briefly hated kids—we were faced with the problem of a child who was too excited to fall asleep until nearly 11:30, so Dad and I stayed up way past our bedtime in our clothes instead of in our heated-by-the-drier- pajamas. And in order to be able to witness the excitement of the children’s first view of the toys underneath the Christmas tree, we had to set our alarms for 5 am. That is when those infamous words of my mother ever so briefly popped into my head.
Just like that excited little boy, I also could not fall asleep because of those visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Christmas Day 2018 confirmed that five hours of sleep is just not enough for me. However, when one not-quite-three-year-old little girl bypassed her presents under the tree to screech my name with excitement and run towards me after she came down the stairs, my hatred of kids melted away faster than a dish of Moose Tracks ice cream on a very hot Carolina summer day.
Before our president dipped his toe into the political world, he had been involved in many other business endeavors: Trump Wine, Trump Steaks, Trump Water, Trump Airlines, Trump University—many of which he does not own. He just slapped his name on the labels. Then there are the casinos, buildings, and reality game shows. We all know about how some of them succeeded while many of them failed bigley.
I am currently enrolled at the Trump Law School, where I am being educated in more legal terminology than I could have ever dreamed possible in less than two years. Here is a small sampling of what I have learned:
Documents whose words have been hidden from view by a Sharpie pen.
An example was when one of you sent a note to one of your teachers and then worried that she was mad at you. Perhaps your name should have been redacted.
Why did you punish me and the other 2 for being good? It’s not fair! All my teachers do it, and I am tired of it. Why should I be good if I’m going to be punished anyway?
(That’s like saying “Why should our country practice conservation if other countries will not, which is a line I heard in my congressman’s office.)
Aiding & Abetting (I use this term because I have learned from the Rudy Giuliani School of Law that collusion is not a legal term, and if it is, it is not illegal.)
Assisting someone in the commission of a crime—involving a plan to commit a crime in which the consequences are illegal.
An example is when someone broke the Cocky ornament, and Bryce suggested to Lily that they hide it from Daddy rather than confess.
A serious crime, usually punishable by at least one year in prison.
In our family we were lucky. None of us ever committed a felony. Grandma’s biggest punishment was usually a promise to be sent to bed immediately after supper—the next day of course so that we could have time to think about our crime and resulting sentence.
The formal charge issued by a grand jury demonstrating that there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed to justify a trial.
(Burn this into your heads because you will be hearing this word a lot in the coming weeks and months.) In a family, which is not a democracy, when you are indicted, expect sanctions to be handed down because the trial consists only of Mom and Dad.
Negotiated agreement between a criminal and the prosecutor whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for reduction in the punishment and possible dismissal of some charges.
Example: I used to punish you by sending each of you to your rooms and making the criminal write a letter of apology rather than revoke a privlege if the crime was a misdemeanor.
I found a letter written after someone was caught purgering* themself.
I hereby resolve to be nice and live up to everyone’s expectations because I obviously don’t at this very moment of which I do hereby speak of now. Be honest now and forever, forever, and ever, ever here an now.
The act of lying or stating falsely under oath.
A penalty or other type of enforcement used to bring about compliance with the law or with rules and regulations.
“No tv for a week.”
I had not planned to go to law school at this point in my life, but then again, I never expected a second-rate reality tv personality to become president.
Going to the zoo during the Christmas season has become another holiday tradition for our family, particularly enhanced now that we have young children to accompany us. The lights are wonderful, particularly the tree at the entrance whose changing lights are synchronized with music and include swinging monkeys as part of the show.
Fake snow made of soap excited the children, and there was, of course, the meet-and-greet with Santa, which went much better this year—no more tears! In fact, after being assured that her brother would sit next to Santa, Lily agreed to sit for the photo and ended up chatting with the jolly old elf. She told him what was on her wish list: a crown, some pink coins, a water shooter, and a dust pan and broom. She mentioned the eye patch her daddy had worn when he hurt his eye.
While there were some animals to see (most were in bed for the night), the biggest draw for our little girl was the plants. This was not surprising to me, because she is constantly asking me the names of every flower, bush, and tree around my yard, and just recently, she was seen reading a copy of “Better Homes and Gardens” while waiting for her gymnastics class to begin. Not only did she point to the plants and ask for their names, she requested that I repeat the answer so she could burn the names into her brain.
I think I need to go out and buy a Christmas cactus.
The Christmas tree is up, my ceramic tree, Santas, snowmen, angels, and nativity set are scattered throughout the house. The stockings are hung by the fireplace with care.
The outside lights have been shining brightly for more than a week, albeit less than previous years. I just could not decorate the porch with the garland lights in time to beat the rain and cold weather.
This morning I completed my Christmas cards and placed them in the mail slot at the post office, but I sent out much less than when we were first married and a stamp cost just fifteen cents. I did not even know until today that there had been an increase to fifty cents this year. I had been unaware because I had only purchased postcard stamps in 2018, which was to support some of my favorite candidates.
The presents have been purchased (except for one certain birthday gift) but not yet wrapped. The cookies have not been baked because we are waiting until the weekend to complete that task with the kiddies.
My first book, Do Svidanya Dad has had a facelift and given a new name: Trapped in Russia. I think the new title is not as confusing as the old because I feel that not all readers have a clue about the meaning of do svidanya.
My final accomplishment has been to publish a selection of my favorite stories from this blog—152 of the now 415 postings I have written since its inception 3 ½ years ago.
They can all be read here on your computer, or you can purchase a paperback or Kindle version (free for my Amazon Prime readers).
And as my Russian grandmother would say, “Happy Happy!”