Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I am away on "vacation" and find myself in the lousy predicament of being quite sick. Last night was spent coughing uncontrollably so much so that today I am sore in my chest for all the hacking away I did. Every time I lie down the phlem seems to move around and cause more coughing attacks. Now I'm wondering if maybe I don't have some pneumonia. Should I stay here and rest more or go home tomorrow? Not sure what to do and tomorrow is New Year's Eve - so the best of the world's drivers will NOT be on the road tomorrow. And I think there has been a goodly snow fall closer to home today too. Augh.

I should know better. I say this because in the days leading up to Christmas I knew I was getting run down - I felt it. Drama with my brother caused me to loose sleep, and with preparing for the holidays I just ended up running my resistance into the ground. It happens nearly every holiday season. There just ends up being so much to get done and I seem to be the only person who A) cares about family holiday tradition and the time it takes to get things like kolacky done, and B) will actually work until I drop every night to get things done - the wrapping, baking, cooking, shopping, decorating, etc. And all the while doing the other things I have to do like taking my mother in law for her pain shots (which takes a whole day) and lately counseling half the family with their own problems. I seem to have become the family psychologist, much to my dismay, actually. At any rate, it's all just added up to being TOO MUCH for my system.

It's now a day or so later. I have managed to get home, thanks to my daughter driving (though she complained of my near constant coughing.) I hope she doesn't get sick herself, actually. I'm happy to be back, even though I love the northwoods. Didn't really get to enjoy them much this time, having spent the majority of the time in my bedroom. The next few days I plan to really just putter around and rest at home. There is a million things to do, yes. And I could pressure myself to get everything done immediately. But it's a new year, and I need to take care of my health. No time like the present.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Home Alone

For some time now I find myself in the position of living alone a lot of the time. Well, my daughter does live here in the house, but has her own life and schedule and that does not include me that often. So I find myself knocking around the house with my list of tasks and wondering how in the world it came to be like this?

I am not liking this time in my life much at all. My husband is away for his work most of the time, and when he calls, it's typically late in the day when we both are tired and more than a bit crabby. I miss the daily interaction of discussing our days and paying attention to what each other is thinking and feeling. Lately I think about my grandmother on Dad's side, whose husband traveled for work nearly the whole of their marriage, leaving her home alone with three boys to basically raise the family and provide for them. When I need strength or fortitude, I think of her, alone in her large old family home with three sons away in the war (WWII) at the same time, wondering if they will come home. It seems MUCH more difficult than what I go through, yet a bit the same, too.

The good part of being home alone is that my time is my own, essentially. If I feel like doing nothing at all, then that's just what I do. Honestly, that doesn't happen but once in a blue moon though. Inevitably the guilt sets in and I am up throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning something or setting myself to another list. I'm getting used to the quiet of being alone too. Like sitting in a forest by yourself, my house has it's own noises and rhythms that I have grown accustomed to and am at peace with. Rarely do I even turn a radio on, or my ipod, even.

If I had to tell the truth though, I have to admit that I am crushingly lonely. My son has his own life, now engaged and with the agenda that goes with now "cleaving" to another person. My husband has his work life, which seems SO seperate from me because he makes it so. I have lots of friends, of course, but they all have their lives, so I don't see them all that much, either. And my daughter is here, as I have said, but that's a project all of it's own and her company is not anything I count on. So I am home alone in my lovely home, craving interaction, affection and just a little bit of attention. And feeling very guilty and needy that I do.

So I blog. My dear friend Kate is gone now, and with her passing went the daily interchange that I relied upon for feedback in my day to day affairs. There are others that I share my thoughts with, but none so much as I did with her, God rest her. Now my thoughts just go out into space, like they do as I sit in my home folding a load of clothes, or writing out checks, scrambling an egg, etc. It's an existance that I live with, but not happily. I long for really sharing my life again with someone, preferably my good husband. Not sure when or if that will happen again. And I am sad. REALLY sad about that. I miss him not just in the physical sense of being here, but I miss him being present with me mentally. Even when he is here, he seems a million miles away and apart. I think it's because we spend TOO much time apart.

Now I throw my thoughts out into cyberspace. Not that anyone is reading this or cares, but it helps to get it out there, I suppose. To fling the words from my fingertips and own what I feel inside, good or bad. Because there has to be a purpose in my being alone so much. Perhaps it's because God wants me to learn to love myself a bit more, or at least be comfortable in my own skin. I am, I guess, at peace with who I am. Enough so that I'm not afraid to put pen to paper (or fingers to the computer keyboard) and share what is on my mind every now and again. But oh, wouldn't it be nice if I could be less alone, less in my own head, and sharing my life again on a daily basis with my spouse. So I wait. And blog. And make lists of tasks that give me something to do, but not so much purpose. And that is why I write, I guess - because it's better thinking that SOMEONE might read my words and understand or care, instead of just having the words rattle around in my head with no chance of human/social interaction. And as I write that I acknowledge how pathetic that sounds. I'm not such a drippy, needy soul as that - it's just that I need more. Now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sugar Buzz

Each year at Christmastime, my family has come to expect that I will make a family recipe for a cookie called kolacky that my Grandmother made when we were all young. It's a Slovak recipe that has taken me years to perfect. My Grandmother never worked from a cookbook and tended to measure with her hands and whatever spoons she had around, making duplication near to impossible. I watched and learned though, and have to say that my kolacky, while definitely not Grandma's are pretty darn close these days.

The ingredients have changed over time. I used to be able to find refrigerated cake (live, active) yeast in the grocery store. Today I can't even order it in the gourmet specialty shop. So I have by trial and error, learned to improvise with active dry yeast and a combo of sugar and warm water, added at just the right point in the recipe. The dry yeast does not rise as the old stuff did, but it comes close. And I think that where I use butter today, Grandma may have started years ago using shortening (lard) instead. In fact, when my son and I were in Slovakia a year ago, a relative of Grandma's served apple cakes to us that were made with lard and tasted like my past. I think the milk products of today are different too. Sour cream and milk bought in the supermarket are not like the milkman used to bring when I was little. Or the eggs that came from the "egg lady" either.

So of course I am stuck using current available ingredients and inprovising the recipe a bit. I got ambitious, in fact, this year. I decided to not only try to make Grandma's kolacky, but try for the buchty too. That's a small yeasty sweet bread "bun" with a filling inside like plum, apricot or cottage cheese/raisin. I made them a year ago and the result was like rocks - just not good. So I went online and found two Slovak ladies demonstrating their buchty technique on You Tube. It helped! Again I fudged with Grandma's recipe based on last year's results and I have to say, the end result this year is remarkably better, and close to Grandma's, albeit much smaller in size. (I have to get the forming of them in hand before they are Slovak perfection.)

And of course I couldn't stop there either. My mom provided me with Grandma's sugar cookie recipe a year or two back. I've made these too - and they were good, but not even close to the flaky cookies she made. So I have adapted that recipe too and will try tomorrow to duplicate this favorite of mine. She always had sugar cookies in her cookie jar. They had crumbled sugar cubes on top with slivered almond pieces. Yum!

I still have to find time to make regular cut-out cookies and decorate them. THe family has come to expect those too. Not sure why I go to all this bother and stress myself out with all the baking every December. I end up getting so tired and cranky that I didn't get anyone's help in the kitchen while slaving away. The truth is, though I WILL be tired, it is satisfying to me personally to have both attempted and made Grandma's treasured recipes. The traditions of family are still intact through me, in this way. My house this week has smelled just like Grandma's house always smelled to me - of fresh baked goods in the oven. So I will push on and endure the fatigue and frustration of the mess in my kitchen for those few comments Christmas day when cousins or brothers will bite into one of MY creations and declare it as good as the "originals".

If only. I strive to get closer to her each year though baking. I miss Grandma - a simple, wonderful, kind-hearted woman that I really admired. I hope my baking will continue to keep our family together in years to come and that some day my grandchildren may say they remember all those smells from MY kitchen. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Counting Sheep

Let's just get this out there. I love to sleep. Lately though, I can't seem to get myself to GO to sleep at night - or should I say morning? When I finally turn out the light, I sleep fairly soundly, routinely dreaming vivid dreams and waking refreshed the next morning. I just have a hard time shutting off at night. There always seems to be just one more thing to do, one more blog to write, a few more bills to look at or a dish or two to wash, a load of laundry to fold or throw in.... Or one more program I recorded that I haven't gotten to yet to watch. (And darn it anyway, I missed the last Smallville - it went of the DVR before I had time to see it. )

Some people are very guarded about their sleep. They go to bed at a set time or listen to their bodies when they start yawning in the evening. This is not true of me. I know that I am tired, but it always seems I get a "second wind" later in the evening. I don't drink caffeine at night, so it can't be that. I don't really drink that much caffeine in beverages anyway. Maybe one or two diet sodas a day, the second of which I sometimes don't finish. I don't drink coffee (blech!) and I'm too lazy to brew iced tea for myself most days. ANd someone threw away the insert for my iced tea maker, so I can't use the thing and it's not manufactured any more. Soooo - the long story is that my inability to shut off at night is not biological. It's mental.

My husband maddeningly goes to sleep at about 9:30 every night. Drives me crazy. Even when I was a kid, I could never go to sleep early. I'd read in bed until midnight or later (probably why I have such bad eyesight). So while I an habitually a late to sleep person, it seems that recently it's gotten to be worse than just late to sleep (like 11 or 12.) Now it's 1 or 2 in the morning before I shut down. I am rarely asleep past 8:30 or 9:00, and many times up before then. So I have to figure out what is going on that I can't put all the chores and STUFF away and just lay my head down.

I don't want to take tylenol or advil PM. I always end up feeling so groggy the next day. It effects me too much. And forget prescription meds - I really hate taking any medication, though I have to take some each day. (It's hell gettin old.) Tomorrow I'm seeing my family doctor and I suppose I'll have to tell her I'm not sleeping so well - except that isn't exactly true. I sleep just fine (usually) when I do go to sleep. Just can't seem to PUT myself to sleep.

Maybe it's just that I'm alone most nights? Except when my husband is here our sleep patterns are so different and sleep temperatures are so different that I get too warm when he's in bed with me because he throws all the covers off and they end up on me. And my bedcover is extremely heavy. (I don't like it actually - I think it's so heavy it's contributing to my plantar faciitis.) It is a comfort, however, when he is there. I can reach out and know he's near. It doesn't happen often enough.

I guess I'm going to start setting sleep goals for myself. Meaning whatever I have left to do, I have to set a time that I most definitely have to shut out the lights and just go to sleep. It will all be there in the morning, anyway, right? And I think I shouldn't watch TV in the bedroom either. I end up getting wrapped up in too many programs I have saved. It becomes one more thing on my to do list. How important is that anyway? I gotta set some priorities.

So here we are, it's 1:23 a.m. and I'm clicking away at my laptop. Time to take some of my own medicine and shut the lights...till the next blog. G'nite!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Never Enough

I enjoy doing things for my kids, who are now in their 20s. I have always enjoyed it. I like giving them gifts, or finding the perfect Christmas present(s). It's fun having them hug me when they get that longed-for purse or hoped-for concert tickets. It does feel good to give to others. To a point. I don't expect anything back from my kids, really, except sincere gratitude. And maybe a phone call every once in a while just to say hello and not ask for a favor, cash, or to babysit the dog.

And to be honest, maybe I DO expect things back. I secretly (well, I'm blogging, so how secret this is might be a stretch to say...) wish that my daughter would volunteer to do laundry, or the dishes, or to take something UP the stairs that is sitting at the bottom waiting for the next person going in that direction. Or taking something downstairs that is piled on the butler's pantry awaiting the trip down. Or maybe asking me what show I'd like to watch on TV before clicking right to their show ahead of the one they knew I wanted to see. I'd like either one of them to follow up on help they promised me for one or another task. The lights are STILL on not my living room tree, my daughter having promised the help days ago after I did something for her. But I noticed a new pile of her clothes in the laundry room. Mind you, not in the actual baskets, just dumped on the floor unceremoniously.

So I think I may be done with the gifts. For awhile anyway. A new experiment. An no more favors unless what Iwant done comes FIRST. Payment made BEFORE service is rendered, just like retail. You don't get it unless you pay for it. Whether that be cash or in chores or even in attitude. And I am done with the expectation that Mom and Dad are a bottomless pit of cash. TIme to man up, kids. Time to get pushed from the nest and go it alone.

Grrr. I don't like being taken advantage of. Particularly by my own family. I am thinking a new era is upon us, though. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. No more free lunch. No more, no more. I ain't takin it NO more, as they say.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh My Aching...

For the last several days I have been on the go, shopping all over town for Christmas. (Single handedly contributing to those shopping numbers the media will carp about a few weeks from now when they speak of how good or bad the shopping season was/is, before sending the markets teeter-tottering again). At any rate, this probably would have been a good year to do this via internet, and not walking the length and breadth of two of the largest area malls on foot. I have a foot problem that is causing severe pain in my right heel with every strike of my foot to pavement. My podiatrist politely calls it plantar faciitis. But he can't be sure, you see. Could be heel spurs in there. As of this week, might even be a lead in to RA, according to him.

The guy is making me nuts. I have been doctoring for this damnable condition for the last several months. Its plagued me probably for 25 years (and the reason I have faithfully worn orthotic devices in my shoes when I walk any long distance) but lately, the pain has ramped up considerably. This doctor hasn't taken one xray. Not an MRI. Hasn't even really done much examining of my actual foot, other than to hear me try to adequately describe the searing pain I have been having. Ahhh, he nods, seemingly knowingly. " What," I think, "how could he know? He hasn't looked at a thing!"

When does one know that their doctor is not a good doctor? After five pairs of different orthotics, two cortizone shots to the afflicted area and four months time, I'd say. I was in my physical therapist's office two weeks ago and explaining all the foot pain I had (along with the back pain, which is why I was there to begin with). Turns out one is probably connected (well, not literally) to the other. I told the PT who I was seeing (podiatrist) for my foot. His reaction? "Oh....THAT guy?" Probably not the response you want to hear when you are in pain. So now I'm left with...well, NOW what do I do?

So I went to the Internet, of course - that all-knowing reference for anything you may be curious about. (Remember when it was all about looking it up in one of 30 volumes of an encyclopedia?) I googled "plantar faciitis" and got a whole host of information, most of which says the treatments are orthotic devices, if pain persists, cortizone shots, and as a last resort, surgery. So now I'm thinking that, well, that's what I have been doing, so why is all this pain persisting? I have come to the unequivocable conclusion that the podiatrist I have been seeing must NOT have been in the top of his class. So I'm on the hunt for a new one, or perhaps an orthopedic surgeon who can actually assess what's going on through crazy methods like actually taking an xray. Certainly the five pairs of orthotics he's made have clearly not fit right.

One of the other methods of treatment listed is to get off the foot and rest it, waiting for healing of the tissue. Riiiiiight. How in the heck do you NOT use your foot to get around? I'm not ordering a wheelchair. Seems extreme. And who will do the baking, shopping for groceries, cooking, decorating for xmas, wrapping, cleaning, laundry, taking in/out of mail, putting trash out, and so forth if I am incapacitated? Back to my Grandpa Shine story with the dishes ending up in the shower. (See many blogs ago...) So, I'm left with having to live with the pain and get all this crap done too. It's feeling a bit unfair, frankly. When others in my family are hurting they just STOP what they are doing and expect everyone else to cater to them, wait on them, etc., particularly me wait on them. Doesn't seem to ever apply to me (Mom) though.

So ho ho ho, I'll have to carry on and grin and bear the pain. Not feeling all that happy about it. Not happy at all.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Potato / Po-Tah-Toe

Why is it that our elected officials cannot get along, let alone cooperate on issues for the common good? Are they so intent on just being reelected that they can't make hard decisions? Where is the leadership in this country? Honestly, since Reagan, there hasn't been one president that really had a vision himself. Not one has inspired. Oh, the Obamamaniacs out there would argue that he is inspiring. What, because of his race? I believe a person should be judged on their words and more importantly, deeds, not on color or affliation. He hasn't done a thing yet in office that hasn't been about following his party line, or following polls. The guy has no real voice of his own. We are in trouble, people! We need leadership!

In the running health care debate in particular, both sides of the aisle are waving their banners and making their accusations, and no one is considering the common good or the future of this country and the ideals on which it was founded. These days, I don't trust ANY politician, or really anyone looking to hold public office. It just isn't about serving the people any more. I don't think any elected official of our government should be allowed to serve any more than one term in office. Then maybe politics would attract individuals who really wanted to serve our common interests and not be worrying about keeping their job. It would be more like a conservatorship. Like the Supreme Court aligns legal decisions with our constitution, so should any bill or piece of legislation be drawn in congruance with those ideals too. To serve the common good and the future of our country.

Election cycles should not begin any more than six months before the election. Period. I for one get sick to death of enless debates, commercials and lawn signage that outlasts whole seasons. Who can or wants to keep up? It's why people are cynical and disinterested. It's all TOO MUCH. Shortening the cycle of election would focus campaigns into real issues and getting a point of view across in a succinct manner. It would create real leaders, not just party figureheads. And no single campaign should have any more money than another. There should be a cap on how much can be spent on a campaign, at each level of government. That way the money would be spread out and huge donations by special interests wouldn't make as much sense. The amount of money thrown at campaigns is hideous and shameful. Imagine the good that cash could do if thrown at charities that really need the help and are doing the hard work of serving people?

Maybe the labels of liberal, Democrat, conservative, Republican, libertarian, etc don't serve us at all. There are compassionate Republicans, no matter what the ultra liberal leaners think! I'm one of them. Just as there are lots of Democrats who are high wage-earning, hard workers and not deadbeats who don't want to work and expect handouts. It's not whether or not you are rich or poor or in-between. It's what you believe and stand for that counts. Words that match deeds. Putting money where your mouth is, so to speak. The tenats of each party are so muddled now anyway. How about being humanist? Working to serve humanity and not self or party. This is what is utterly lacking in our government and elected officiate.

What our government should and can do is set rules (a framework) under which business should operate in order to serve the people. It should not try to RUN those businesses, whether they be banks, investment houses or health care. That is a recipe for waste and skewing interests to one group or another. Private industry is what sets us apart. It's what drives our economy. Taking from the private sector does not serve anyone. It will cripple us. Allowing private sector competition to drive business will create jobs, drive our economy and keep us moving forward.

Having government come in and run or dictate how a business spends its money will lead to a whole lot of future woes. You can't redistribute wealth. Castro tried that, remember? My boss in Miami remembers "government" coming in and forcefully taking the things his family worked for generations to acquire. Certainly that did not end up in the hands of the poor. The same will be true of us if we keep leaning on the business owners and people who have worked to earn their money.

Freedom and personal responsibility. Free trade and commerce. Serving the ideals our founding fathers set up in our consitutuion. These are the things I beleive in. NOT that government protect us from ourselves by taking basic freedoms away from us and running every aspect of our lives, including dictating what kind, how much and what to pay for our health care. Republican. Democrat. All the same. Party interests are self-serving and do not take our freedoms into consideration. We need a leader. We need a hero to jar the electorate into seeing just what is becoming of us. You have to be out there somewhere. Come out, come out, wherever you are. We need you, whoever you are.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Law of Attraction, et al

Some time ago I watched an Oprah program about "The Secret." This is a book about the power of the laws of attraction. In the months (years?) since I saw that show, and read the book by the same name, I have thought alot about why some people get it, and others do NOT. I have come to believe truly that one "has to believe to receive." That's why all those athletes envision crossing goal lines...they begin to believe and then KNOW that their goal is not only possible but probable.

Belief isn't always a positve thing, however. For instance, if you believe it isn't possible to lose weight, then you won't submit to the sacrifices necessary to make reduction a reality. If you believe you are smarter than everyone else you meet, then no one you come in contact with can hold a conversation interesting enough to learn from - that person will always look for a way to prove their own point. If you believe no one will ever be attracted to you physically, then you won't do the things with your appearance and carriage to have posture enough to have someone actually take a look. Confidence seems to be the underlying factor to any successful endeavor, whether it's losing weight or getting a date. How one acquires confidence seems to be a tricky matter though, and more so the crux of the matter.

A friend told me a day or so ago that he thought when he met me some 30 odd years back, that my confidence level was out of proportion to my talent and ability. What a deep statement! I thought about that all day. What was it when I was in my late teens that caused me to lose self-assuredness? It would be too easy to say upbringing, or blame siblings, or a mean teacher...the list is endless. The fact is we all suffer indignities, harsh statements and unfair treatment at one point or another. How we process them is another story. Is confidence innate? Or learned? How can one sibling have it in abundance and another be lacking, having been raised in the same environment? Why do some people care so much about what others think (of them) but others just don't give a damn? These are the questions I both need answers to and that tend to keep me up at night.

Being a parent of two dramatically different children, I can see that being raised in the same home has zero to do with it. My son KNOWS he will be successful, and puts the work in to whatever he does to ensure that success. My daughter doubts her ability to succeed, and ends up sabotaging herself waysthat seems almost tragic to me. I wish one could rub off on the other, but it's not that easy, of course. In my early 20s, as they are now, I had a bit of each of them in me. I knew I was smart and could do most anything, but was both afraid to show I was smart (wouldn't that be tooting my own horn?) and couldn't figure out how to get myself to put the work in regardless of setback or hardship to ensure my success. I craved affection and validation. I still do in a lot of ways.

I have seen evidence through the years that we tend to surround ourselves with individuals who validate our self-opinion and have similar feelings themselves. Stray cat syndrome, call it. Losers find losers to hang with, and winners find winners. Yes, some people do rise above the circumstances of upbringing, poverty, health issues, and life challenges to become that which they BELIEVE they can be. How do they stay positive?

It's the old "Act As If.." scenario. Acquiring a sense of confidence is a matter (I think) of beginning to just go through the motions of positivity and envisioning a goal to actually taking those things to heart and believing in them. It took me a long time and hell, I'm still a work in progress. I heard not long ago an expression that goes something like this: A goal without an action plan is just a wish. How true! It's about taking actionable steps - the proverbial "journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step." For instance, I want to write a novel. It's not going to happen by hoping that I will. I have to set small steps up, small goals. A paragrah. A page. An outline. A blog. The accomplishment of each step breeds further belief in the possibility of success and begins to define me as a person.

I have no idea how to instill confidence in any person other than myself. And I stil need validation. Doesn't everyone want a pat on the back every now and again? To be told they are going in the right direction, doing the right thing, that they are attractive, or smart, or appreciated? Those little perks are the confidence builders I think. It's not a bad thing to seek the approval of others, and it isn't even socially needy, though for a long time I thought it was. It's human. The "secret" isn't any one universal law. The secret is being brave enough to take the journey, to suffer setbacks and learn from them, to seek validation and approval from those we love and/or respect (yes, we need to HEAR that we are loved, too) and envision that our endeavors will lead to results. THAT is what builds confidence. The accomplishment of the small steps is like the building of a wall. Brick by brick it becomes stronger, sturdier, until finally it is built.

I'll always be a person who seeks the approval of others, but more so now because I like the camaraderie, cooperation, and caring that goes into paying attention to another person's concerns. I'm not 17 any more - I'm 50. I know myself better now. But I'm still human, and still like to hear it when a sincere compliment is paid to me, or a helpful bit of criticism too, for that matter. All in the wheelhouse of self-understanding, don't you know. It gives one a little bounce in their step to know they are on the right path, or that someone loves them or is attracted to them. Keeps us moving forward. Step by step....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tis the Season

My house is in a huge disarray today. The Christmas decoration boxes have come up from storage in the basement and are clogging my kitchen, dining room and foyer, leading my husband to declare that I have to "cull the herd" and daughter to groan with the task of hauling them up and down stairs. I will admit, I have A LOT of Christmas STUFF. And each year it seems to grow by just a little bit. An ornament here, a wreath there....

For certain I have to weed out the things I no longer display, and possibly pack away some of the treasure to give to my son and his fiance. I was hard-pressed to find a branch available when placing ornaments on one of my two trees. Usually I have too many to fit on the real tree in the living room. Time indeed to go through my collection.

It's pretty tough deciding which items to part with. I'll admit that I'm attached to just about everything related to Christmas. Every ornament unwrapped each December 1st is a little thrill of discovery. I painstakingly wrap each up on January 6th, so when unwrapping, I can feast my eyes upon the cute little treasures I've collected. Many ornaments are from trips I have made both domestically and abroad. Some are exquisite, in fact, for their craftsmanship or colors or materials. The little painted glass bell from Salzburg or the porcelain teddy bear with my son's first baby photo inside, the waterford and lenox down to crafts show finds - I really love them all.

But I do not look forward to this day each year when the boxes come upstairs and I am faced with the task of taking everything out of wrappings and crates to find places to put everything. It's a daunting job that has fallen to me alone for a few years now, but particularly this year it seems. Kind of overwhelming thinking about getting up tomorrow to face those boxes and all the work they represent. But when all is finally put into place, I will sit in my yellow striped chair in the living room looking at my fragrant real tree all decked out and sigh a bit, happy for a moment of quiet after all the work of putting everything up. I'll admire my handiwork and try not to think about January 6th and having to take it all down again for storage.