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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Christmas in October

There’s a town on the other side of Michigan that is known for having the largest, year-around Christmas store in the world. The footprint of the building covers over seven acres and the landscaped grounds adds another 27 acres of holiday charm. They can park over 1,000 cars and fifty buses. In other words Bronner’s is a big deal. I’ve been there once, in the ‘70s, and driven through Frankenmuth, MI, a couple of times on the way to other places. Going there isn’t something that fires up my shopping genes but many people from this side of the state make a yearly pilgrimage to Bronner’s with a side trip to another area favorite, an all-you-can-eat, family style chicken place. The first year after Don died I signed up for a bus trip to Frankenmuth but I didn’t set foot inside the famous store, opting instead to window shop the streets nearby. What was I thinking? No newly minted widow shouldn’t punish herself in a glorified ornament store before she’s got her first holiday season under her belt. 

Why am I thinking about Christmas before Halloween has even past? It’s that stupid Hallmark cable channel’s fault. Their count down to the holidays starts October 31th and their countdown to October 31th is underway. I get it, I really do…why they start with the Christmas movies and specials so early. It’s all about the sponsors who want you buying stuff. The earlier we shop, the more we buy. It’s a rule of life like wearing clean underwear every day. No one forces me to watch the Christmas movies, or wear clean underwear for that matter, but I do both anyway. What I don’t understand is why isn’t there a 365/24/7 all Christmas all the time cable channel. The retails would jump on that idea like Oxpecker birds riding Rhinos. 

I’m making my last trip to the auction house next Monday and I’m trying to decide if I want to downsize my Christmas stuff there or take it all to the Goodwill. I’ve got some nice things, bought in the 1960s when I could get ornaments wholesale. It will sting to see my Christmas things go as cheaply as holiday stuff does at the auction house. At least with Goodwill I could always go buy them back if I have day-after regrets. Whatever I do, I’ve given myself one week to downsize my three boxes of Christmas to one and in the process I might just join Hallmark’s countdown to Christmas by decorating my house before Halloween. If I do and people start talking about the poor, mixed up widow I’m keeping a copy of this blog to prove I actually do have a plausible reason for rushing the season. And that reason is---drum roll, please---why haul three boxes upstairs to my sorting table in the garage just to turn around and haul the keepers back down the evil steps when it won’t be long before they’d have to come back up again? Every time I make a trip up or down I have visions of someone finding my petrified bones at the bottom of the steps. Even the dog is afraid to go to the basement so at least I don’t worry about him getting hungry enough to eat my flesh, should I fall and not get up. Ohmygod, I need to sign up for the service my cell phone company offers for three bucks a month. It’s a daily call and if you don’t answer they send the Canadian Mounties or someone equally as virile to check on you. Did I mention that a good share of Hallmark Christmas movies involve widows who “get saved” by knights in shining armor types?

New topic: The fall luncheon at the senior hall. You know the one where they have orange napkins, black tablecloths and miniature coffins on the tables. I haven’t taken a survey but I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one who thinks coffins at a senior hall was a bad choice in décor.  But what do I know. I spent a good many years designing table decorations for weddings so maybe I have a warped sense of “happy-happy” when it comes to what should go on banquet tables. So far, I’ve kept the fact that I had a lot of experience in the bridal/floral industry a secret down at the hall. Why? Out of fear that they’ll want to put me in charge of the “decorations closet” where they keep out of seasonal coffins, candy canes, and tulips. 

The luncheon was fun, though. For entertainment they had a couple who did an unusual act. He drew a large landscape with pastels while she told jokes and read inspirational stories. She was a good  storyteller and laughter reigned supreme in the room. He wasn’t what I’d call a real artist and if you’ve seen the Bob Ross technique you’ll know what I mean. Very formula orientated. But I gave him an A+ for working in public like he did. I could never do that with artwork (or cooking). At the end he turned on a black light which revealed images in the sky that he’d done with special chalk that looked like clouds under normal lighting.  It was a great showmanship ending. The audience was amazed and I enjoyed talking with him afterward to learn the ‘secret’ of how to do the secret images. ©


  1. We have no Christmas decorations anymore. They are all gone except the front door wreath and I haven't put that up for several years. It's wonderful not having to do this chore every year. Why did they go? Because getting on ladders is a thing of the past. Both of us enjoy doing nothing but a great meal for Christmas.

    I have to agree with you...seniors and coffins just don't seem to be a good party motif.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I don't do a lot of Christmas decorations anymore either. But I do like having a wooden bowl filled with ornaments, a couple of door wreaths and a tiny tree. Most of my stuff I just look at once a year then close the boxes. I just hit on the idea of photographing the stuff I send off to the auction house. Glad you don't miss the yearly chore. That's inspiring.

  2. I've always wanted to go to Frankenmuth. I no longer like driving in the states. I will try to take one of those bus excursions to Frankenmuth. We are also trying to low our expections with Christmas. I love Christmas but all the work decorating and planning, well, I'm just tired. We'll see. I do get upset when I see the stores planning Halloween and at the same time Christmas decorations put out also. Money, money, money. What ever happened to love of Christ and the beauty of the time. I guess you and I are just getting old or maybe it's the rest of the world is going crazy.
    Enjoy your day Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

    1. Frankenmuth is quite an experience for those who love Christmas. I don't know anyone whose been there who was disappointed and I think all the bus trips hit the chicken place, too.

      Christmas side by side in the stores with Halloween bugs the heck out of me and even if I see something I like, I won't buy it before Thanksgiving.

  3. I hate Halloween!!!!! Which is exacerbated by the Pagans next door who, were not only married on Halloween, but had their service in the local cemetery AND they decorate like crazy.

    Christmas is my favorite holiday and I decorate the day after Thanksgiving. I don't care if it takes me three days to get the tree up and decorated, it will be done for as long as I am here. Although--no one but me sees it.

    We always made the trip to Bronner's during deer season when the men were all up north hunting. My Mother her sisters and we girl cousins spent the whole day walking the town, touring the Lutheran church and driving out to see Wally Bronner's Alpine style home. One year we'd eat at Zhenders and the next year at the Bavarian Inn--both owned by the same family, by the way. Some people swear the food is better at either one or the other, when in actuality, the same recipes are used at both restaurants. I do like the bakery downstairs at Bronners, but I could care less which place we eat at--just so I can get my side order of Fried Chicken Livers and some Stollen Bread from the bakery!!!

    1. What a great deer hunting tradition for the women in your family. I didn't know that about the two chicken places being owned by the same people. I love their bakery, too, and the year I was there after Don died I spent too much money there. Next time I go on a bus trip to Frankenmuth---and I'm sure there'll be one---I promise to actually go inside Bronner's. Probably to replace all the Christmas things I sold. LOL Actually, if my tree hadn't gotten damage beyond repair when my basement flooded, I would have loved to start doing a tree again. A least once anyway.

      It would be hard to live next to Pagans at Halloween! I really hate seeing grown people in costumes, especially if they have face masks and are ghosts, monsters or zombies. When I was a kid we almost took pride in getting too old and big to do Halloween. Now, there seems not to be a cut off age. Parent dress up with their kids. Here, they have 'zombie walk' downtown with over 4,000 adults doing the bar scene and walking around scaring either other. Even if I was young I would HATE that.

  4. When I was in my early teens, I used to go to church on Wednesday nights with a family in our neighborhood because I had a crush on a boy at their church. They had a visiting artist once. The preacher proclaimed in very dramatic tones, "She's colorblind." She proceeded to create a very colorful picture of the "old rugged" cross on the hill. The sky was aflame with color. I was such a sucker for the visiting attractions. When I was a younger, a traveling evangelist visited the small church down the road from our house. He had an impressive knife collection and let the kids come up to the front of the church and look at them. He told a story about how Jesus saved him on a cold and dark night under a bridge. I can't remember why he was under the bridge, but he held my rapt attention. It was like the circus act. I was mesmerized.

    I bet you've cleared out a lot of stuff. It sure sounds like it. You'll be so glad when you move. So glad. I'm thinking of giving my house another once-over after Christmas. I think I can still get rid of a few things. I do not want to let it accumulate again.

    Over seven acres!?! That's a lot of Christmas. I've really downsized my Christmas and plan to keep it even leaner this year. This house is smaller and the decorating should be a breeze.

    1. Funny you should mention the church shows you saw as a kid. The artist at the senior hall and his wife developed their act to do at churches.

      I'm doing the summer-of-auctions report in my next blog since this week was my last week of doing it. So I won't repeat it now.

      I downsized my Christmas from the three boxes, to one and then back up to one and a half boxes. LOL My best stuff went to the auction house and I only kept what I thought I'd actually use. The rest goes to Goodwill this week. If I don't use what I kept, I won't have an trouble parting with it.

  5. You are SO funny! I laughed out loud right here on the sofa!