Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Ups, Downs and Oop, I'll Never do that Again!



For the first time in fifteen years I didn’t write my annual Christmas letter. Since sending  out that first one, I’ve tried to brand my letters as “self-deprecating humor” that summed up what I’d been doing over the year but this year I’m still in a state of mourning over the election and I couldn’t think of anything funny, cute or even old-woman-wise to write about. If I wrote a letter making light of our president-elect and how invested I got in the election, I know from reading Facebook postings that half my of husband’s family would turn against me upon discovering that I’m what they call a “libtard.” All liberals, in their minds, are not smart enough to come out of the rain or to get a job and we only voted for Hillary to get free stuff from the government. 

I dragged my feet about even sending out Christmas cards until this past weekend when I managed to send a scant handful. I’m sure there will be a few people on my holiday list who will assume I died. Before I actually do cross over, kick the bucket, eat dirt---whatever you want to call it---I don’t think anyone will be sending out Christmas cards or letters anymore. The stores don’t offer much of a selection like they did in “the good old days” and electronic cards are showing up in my inbox. Back when I first started sending out cards in the early ‘70s, my card list had almost 200 addresses. Last year my card list was 45 with just over half them getting the letter tucked inside. This year I managed to get out twenty cards with a scribbled sentence inside and I only did those because I was pretending Father Christmas was holding a gun to my head. Ohmygod! Maybe I am a foot soldier in the so-called war on Christmas! Aren't all liberals, she says sarcastically.

Enough of the bah humbug, old lady having a hissy fit. I’m actually having a good week due mostly to having three very long phone calls spread out over four days. One was from a friend of almost 45 years (we always talk politics), one from a new friend from the senior hall (we talked about dieting and other stuff that had us laughing) and one call was from my youngest niece (we talked about life and death and the family). The weather report for our family Christmas Eve party looks good for me to make the hour trip to the boondocks and my oldest niece kindly offered to drive me home with her husband trailing behind us because she knows I don’t see well at night. It’s quite a bit out of their way but as long as none of us are endangering our lives driving in bad weather, I took take her up on the offer. It will give us a good opportunity to talk on the drive home and there isn’t anyone I enjoy talking with more than my two nieces.

My oldest niece is more sentimental than my youngest niece but #2 surprises me from time to time. In our talk this week the subject of chenille bathrobes came up and I mentioned that I still have my mom’s 1940’s robe with a peacock on the back. I sent her a photo of it and she texted me back that it was gorgeous. “It’s yours if you want it,” I texted back. Oh, yes, she did want it adding, “I promise not to fry bacon in it!” In decent condition they sell online for $225 to $325, in fair condition they sell for less to up-cyclers who make vintage pillows out of them. I was going to put Mom's up for auction but I’d much rather give it to someone who loved my mother. It’s too fragile to wear but she likes the idea of hanging it decoratively. I gave her sister a couple of 1940s dresses a few summers ago and she has them hanging as part of her cottage décor. (The place could easily be featured in Country Living magazine.) Can you believe it, my husband and I found a funky store in the boondocks in the late 1990s that had brand new old stock clothing they found in their basement that they were selling for the original prices marked on the tags back in the ‘40s. I bought four dresses and the cutest, child sized English ride pants and sweater you’ve ever seen. We went back the next week intending to buy every dress they had to resell on eBay but someone beat us to the idea.
In my last blog entry I confessed that I ate the box of chocolates that I bought to have on hand in case someone stopped by unexpected with a token Christmas gift---think tray of cookies. In all the decades of buying the “spare gifts” I can count on my fingers the number of years I’ve actually given them away but I dutifully kept them until New Year’s day, just in case. Until this year. Just now my doorbell rang. It was my new neighbor (who has MS) and her two sons bringing me a Starbucks gift card before they leave town for the holidays. Oops! I had nothing to give her back but a hug. I'll never, ever break the rules of that Christmas tradition again. Mom was right, "You never know who might stop by over the holidays." ©


I'm a day early with this blog but I'm posting it anyway so I can wish anyone who stops by a Merry Christmas and the happiest of happy holidays. 

31 comments:

  1. My Christmas is over so I will wish you--continued health and blessings in 2017. Onward and upward we go--ever forward!!!

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  2. I remember chenille well, mostly bedspreads. I've elected not to go back to following my Trump voting relatives. Perhaps some time in the future but for now it's still too soon. Today I was in a yarn shop and the conversation was how much the women are still grieving this election. I'm very frustrated because I can think of no way to get these Trump voters to understand this is not about being a sore loser. I grieve because for all my life I've heard about the checks and balances the founding fathers added to keep the country safe from what happened in this election. Until Dick Cheney became Vice President I believed no one elected to office would intentionally harm the country for their own personal gains but It happened. Good you're having a niece drive you home. About 3 years ago I had a cousin killed in a one car accident returning from a family Christmas gathering. She'd driven that road many times during the day but in the dark she made a fatal mistake. Hope you enjoy being with family on Christmas Eve.

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    1. You are so right! It's not about being a sore loser at all. It's a genuine fear for our country's future.

      The story about your cousin sent a chill down my spine. Where I have to go out in the boondocks is scary enough away from city lights in the summertime, let alone in the winter.

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  3. I remember those chenille robes and bedspreads. Your niece will enjoy your mother's robe. When my sister died, my niece gave me her apron. I wear it when I'm dressed up and cooking big meals, like at Christmas. It always makes me think of her. I'm finding that my nieces are my best relationships these days. It's so nice.

    I only sent 17 cards this year. That's a far cry from what I used to send, but I did receive a card from the White House with Bo in the snow. Cute.

    Hope you have a wonderful time at your family Christmas Eve party. Merry Christmas, Jean.


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    1. I'm surprised that you sent out so few cards, being that it wasn't that long ago that your retired. I got the Bo card, too. LOL

      That's a lovely story about the apron, makes me wish I would have kept one of my mothers.

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  4. I haven't sent out Xmas/NY cards in years. But I do buy a chocolate gift box in case of need over the festive season.

    It's been very warm here, but today we had some rain which has made it pleasant.

    A happy Xmas and NY to you, and all your readers. ~ Libby

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    1. Wow, I wonder where that tradition of having the box of candy on hand started from....I thought it was just my mom's idea but if you do it too, then maybe some etiquette book suggested it long ago? Since I had mine early, I may have to buy another for New Years day to eat. LOL

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  5. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone who comments here from time to time. I value your input more than you can know. Thank you! Thanks, also to everyone who comes here to read. It's made my widowhood and growing older easier, knowing I don't walk this path alone.

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  6. Wow! That is an amazing chenille peacock! Lucky niece!

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    1. I pulled that photo off the internet---mine need washing but it's just like it. I'm so happy it serendipitous came up in conversation so it's going to a good home.

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  7. We stopped sending out cards about 3-4 years ago, and went, overnight, from getting 20-40 to getting 4-5. It's just one more tradition that just died off.

    I get it about the election, and all that was said above me, too. Not a sore loser either, just truly fearful for the WORLD.

    Have a beautiful Christmas, my friend.

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    1. I counted the cards I have left on hand for next Christmas and decided I'm sending them out one more year. I'm not buying any on sale next week like I have in the past. It's kind of sad to see tradition die out but we are far more connected with Facebook, texts and cell phones than we were when I was young so it makes sense that we don't need to keep in touch over the holidays anymore.

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  8. I'm right there with you regarding this election. I have a son who has been in and remains in the military for over 23 years. I fear for his safety. He and his family live in Germany so this past week has been very scarey for all of us. I only had one Christmas out of 23 years with them. He's had over 50 major deployments. I believe one day we will have holidays together just not now. I wish our President elect would consider all of us families that sacrifice for this country when he's busy making "flippant" remarks. Well Jean I've had my rant....I do enjoy and look forward to your posts. We get through these days of grieving together. Let's hope 2017 will be better than we think.

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    1. That must be so hard to have a career military person in the family! We haven't had many peaceful years in the past 22.

      It does look like our president-elect intends to keep making "flippant" remarks with no concern with how the rest of the world views them and how on-edge it makes so many people in our country.

      Here's to a better 2017 for our personal lives even if we can't have a better world, just yet.

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  9. Chenille! I still remember snuggling on my Mom's lap while she was in her robe!!

    I stopped mailing Christmas letters many years ago. Not sure I even sent email greetings since Mr. Ralph passed. I need to start that again. Although for most people, it will be a repeat of what they know on Facebook!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and I look forward to another year of The Misadventures of Widowhood!

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    1. And I look forward to you sharing this new chapter and adjustment in your life.

      Hardly anyone reads my Facebook page but then I'm not very active there posting...just reading.

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  10. Have a Happy Christmas and New Year to you and your commenters. I hope you had a lovely family Christmas Eve.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I just go home and the party was wonderful!

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  11. BTW what did you two do to get a card from the White House?
    Leze

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    1. Probably donate money to his re-election campaign, etc. The inside of the card said something like, "thank you for supporting the president through the years."

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  12. I had a complete raging, crying meltdown when the Tweet came out about the "arms race" on the heels of "expanding our nuclear capability". I don't feel like the reaction many of us are having is over "politics" -- I can get my head around the idea that I might have a different vision, want different policies in place. I can't get my head around the idea that the person who will be the president so disregards the institutions of government, the laws and traditions guiding his behavior, the common good of all people, and, well, rational thinking and decision-making. I still feel like this must all be a bad dream and my stomach churns when the reality hits me again and again that this is real. I've read there is a cultural malaise over the whole mess. So, yeah, hard for us "libtards" to dig our way out of feeling a bit depressed and off kilter this Christmas season.

    On a happier note, I LOVE chenille and I bet that robe is beautiful. I always had chenille bedspreads as a girl growing up. Still brings back such sweet memories.

    Hope you got to go to your Christmas Eve party. I've decided that when people offer to do thoughtful, caring things for me, it helps them as much as it helps me. I take them at their word that they wouldn't offer if they didn't want to do it and most people WANT to feel they are helping. So I'm glad you took your niece up on the riding home with you. See? There are ways you can stay where you are and still see your family. :) Merry Christmas, Jean. Or, if not merry, have an OK Christmas and tomorrow it will be over. LOL

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    1. I honestly don't understand how ANYONE can think another arms race is a good thing. Even a president talking about it can cause one to start. It's going to be a LONG four years for those of us who can't stand the man who will be the leader of our country...if he doesn't get us all killed before then with nuclear fallout in the jet-stream. He is so easily provoked!

      As it turned out it was a great night for driving---no snow, rain or fog---but my niece and her husband still insisted they drive me all the way home. I had wanted them to just take me to south end of town where the expressway lights started and me drive myself the rest of the way. It was wonderful even though I did feel a little guilty. But it did give me a chance to show them some vintage stuff around the house that I had brought up from the basement and painted. They both like antiques, too, and it's fun to "talk the talk" with people who understand the attraction and history of pieces.




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  13. I'm glad you were able to make it to the party, and that you enjoyed it. Just so you know, the box of candy held in reserve "just in case" was part of our household, too: but we kept two on hand. It always was Russell Stover. I didn't know any other boxed candy until I left home.

    Merry Christmas to you! I'm looking forward to the new year, and another year of your entertaining posts.

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    1. That's three of us in this short thread that had the same Christmas tradition with the candy. We/I had two boxes as well but I gave one away.

      Shoreacres, your posts put me to shame...they are so interesting and polished not to mention your beautiful photography.

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  14. I'm so used to having a like button on things that it feels weird not to be able to do that here. That robe is absolutely beautiful and you are so generous to give it to your niece. I'm with you on the election. It was my first election without my husband and I swear I thought I saw his urn shaking with anger when Trump won. I have been trying not to think about it. It definitely brought on some secondary grief and anger and I am still living in a fantasy world where something will happen to stop him from taking office. It's all so mixed up and Christmas was definitely no joy this year.

    Here is to hoping that 2017 is much much better. I was away for a while, I think trying to pretend that I'm not a grieving widow. Well, Christmas brought me back to reality, so I will be around again. Thank goodness for your blog. I love your writing so much. Happy New Year, Jean.

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    1. The election cycle made me miss my husband a LOT. We used to talk politics all the time and even long before Trump ever thought of running, my husband intensely hated the man and his lack of ethics.

      Pretending not to be a grieving widow, I think is a stage we've all tried. Welcome to the club.

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  15. A late Merry Christmas Jean. I've been so busy that I forgot about many of the blogs especially yours. I apologize my friend. We just left my daughter's home. My granddaughter had her 11th birthday. She's getting to be quite a young lady. We are very proud of her. Next, New Years. New Years Eve we watch TV until the ball falls, we kiss and then go to sleep. New Years Day we clean up the entire with all the Christmas materials and after that we plan on our Cruise. I bought my wife a brand new piece of luggage and today she went and got me one also. We are now ready.
    Jean, have a Joyeus & Healthy New Year. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Can't wait to hear about your adventures at sea! Happy New Year, Paul.

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  16. I love the tradition of having chocolates on hand as a gift for an unexpected holiday gift. It would never work for me, though; I have no willpower at all where chocolate is concerned. A chocolate in my house for more than a day or two is a chocolate (or, alas a whole pound of chocolates!) eaten. -Jean

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    1. A box of mixed nuts works, too. Or fancy jam jars in a basket. Chocolate is too hard to resist!

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