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, November 21, 2018

Widow Alone on Thanksgiving



Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’ll be having a quiet day home alone with a roast beef in the crock pot. Boo hoo, the grocery store didn’t have any turkey legs but I did pick up some cranberries and a pumpkin pie. So there’s that to set Thanksgiving apart from a normal day and I’ll stay off Facebook until after the weekend. No sense torturing myself with photos of happy families celebrating. 

I had a two hour brunch with my Gathering Girls pals on Monday and I’m chalking that up as my day of thanks and gratitude. And why not. I am grateful for these friendships that came in my post-widowhood life. They might not be the kind of friends that I could call in the middle of the night and say, “I just killed someone” and they’d say, “We’ll be right over with shovels and a bucket of lime” but when I need comradery and lots of laughter I know it’s on tap twice a month. By the way, that was a joke about the murder and the lime. I’d never kill someone---I apologize to bugs when I wack them---and if I did I’d want my friends to help me go to the police and confess. And if you’re a friend reading this, please note that I’m not your go-to person for a shovel and a pail of lime in the middle of the night. No one is that good of a friend…past, present or future.

Since my husband died, this time of the year I’ve been over-dosing on Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. That’s sounds strange, I know, considering what I just said about staying off Facebook around the holidays. But watching fictional strangers celebrate is different. I can poke fun of them and their often under-researched storylines, the fake snow and the over-abundance of lonely and alone people and how every one of them magically finds love by Christmas Eve. But I watch the holiday films because they give me a sense of tradition when all the old traditions have slowly seeped out of my life in recent years.

One of my favorite movies to pick apart is based on a plot that involves a woman hired to decorate a house for the holidays and she’s worried about the fact that she only has two weeks to complete the job she’d already been working on for a week. When I was in the floral business I did those kinds of jobs for rich people, but my employer would have gone broke if I had taken that long to do them. What you don’t do is literally spend 9 to 5 every day for three weeks inside a house putting up bows, holly and tinsel while falling in love with the bachelor/home owner. Watching that movie year after year is my Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’m a cult fan of one.

And then there’s the movie based on emptying out the humane society for Christmas when most of those kind of places suspend adoptions over the holidays because it’s not a good time to introduce a new pet into a family. But my favorite nitpick to make in holiday movies is how often the characters walk around outside with no winter coat or in high heels when there's a foot of snow on the ground. The only people who do that in the Snow Belt are college kids who are rebelling against a lifetime of their mom’s yelling at them to come back inside and put on their coats or boots. Every time this topic of dressing for the season comes up a fellow blogger, who also lives in Michigan, comes along and shares/brags that she acts more like a 20-something than a 70-something and I’ll write back that even in the house I wear fingerless gloves and layers of clothing. I wouldn’t want to test the theory but I’m guessing if we were both stranded outside in a snowstorm---her coatless and me dressed for the weather---I’d probably be the one to die of exposure. Death doesn't follow any rules. Good men die and nasty ones get elected president.

Okay, let’s get down to the reason why we celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. We all know that supposedly Thanksgiving evolved from a feast the Pilgrims had in October, 1621, to celebrate their first harvest in the New World. But it wasn’t until 1863 that the entire nation celebrated a fall harvest all on the same date and that came about because Lincoln proclaimed that “Evacuation Day” would become a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise.” Prior to the Civil War, Evacuation Day was November 25th and it commemorated the date when the British withdrew from The States ending the American Revolution. More tweaks happened over the years landing Thanksgiving on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Yadda, yadda, yadda and now it’s a day when families watch the Macy's Parade on TV, then stuff themselves and and maybe go around the table so everyone can share what they are thankful for.

What am I thankful for? Lots of things including a home to shelter me and my might schnauzer, food for our bellies, money to pay our bills, extra money to donate to organizations helping with the wildfires out west, the election that put the House in control of the Democrats, and a world that---at the moment---is not hosting a nuclear war. Oh, and I'm thankful for Hallmark holiday movies because they remind me that love always wins in the end. ©

37 comments:

  1. Got a kick out of your critique of those movies — they’re so far-fetched sometimes. I’m all set for Thanksgiving, too. Picked up a variety of items today at a special deli, including enough for leftovers. Will just heat them in the microwave. Tomorrow, Wed., there would be long lines which I don’t like. Probably won’t think much about being alone and actually prefer staying home to going out to eat.

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    1. The congestion on the roads this year will be bad, I think, because the weather will be so good for Black Friday shoppers and traveling over the holiday. I'm staying put.

      Hallmark also seems to have a stable of actors who they use over and over again and I'd love to know how they shoot them. I'm guess much faster than regular movies. Love to how many new ones they make each year, how many times the old ones get played each season.

      Sounds like you have a good dinner planed for tomorrow. Happy Holiday!

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  2. We have such a sick and twisted holiday movie tradition.
    Thanksgiving we always watch Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey and Charles Durning in Home for the Holidays.(directed by Jodie Foster) Our favorite holiday movie because it is what real families are like.
    Then of course there is Bad Santa for our favorite Christmas movie.
    Yes, we are not very traditional now are we?
    Enjoy that pie and roast beef. It sounds better than turkey to me!!
    The traffic has been horrendous starting at 4 yesterday. Rick drove 21 miles in 3 hrs. He was cranky when he got home. We are not leaving for the eastern shore until tomorrow morning and I would think/hope it will be a bit lighter then. Oh heaven's I hope so. ((hugs))

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    1. I'll have to look for that Thanksgiving movie. I love everyone in it.

      When we were younger the holiday traffic kind of added to the excitement of going to my mom's for the holidays but now it's just scary crazy. Good luck beating the crowds!

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    2. I love this movie! Watch it every year at least once.

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  3. Jean, I'm thankful for you, your help when I ask you, your ideas, your blog that makes me happy and you make me laugh. My Canadian Thanksgiving wasn't so great this year. For some reason my kids wanted to have it on their own which is understandable. I'm waiting for Christmas of which I've been decorating each day and of course our cruise in January.
    Jean, please have a wonderful Thanksgiving because people are thankful for you. See you my American friend.


    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I can always count on you for great compliments, Paul Thank you.

      I just got a call from a niece-in-law who lives near-by and she wouldn't take no for an answer. So it looks like going to her house tomorrow. We often used to go to her mom's house after Don's stroke because it was the only house where we could get inside with his wheelchair. So I will feel at home with my neice-in-law's family.

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    2. There, I told you everyone loves you. Now going and stuff your face tomorrow but have a piece of pumpkin pie.

      Cruisin Paul

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  4. So glad you got an invite and from a familiar and comfortable relative. Take the pumpkin pie with you and enjoy that beef another day. Make it a good one.

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    1. Thanks. I've already eaten half the pie but I always have tart shells in the freezer so I'm making tarts later today with pomegranate and pistachio Turkish sweets and cream cheese. Not very holiday-ish but my niece-in-law said not to bring anything.

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  5. Dark meat eater here, too. Don't know how anyone can eat that dry stuff. Home for the Holidays is really not to be missed. I wonder if Netflix carries it? My daughter and I started a new tradition of going to see White Christmas, our favorite holiday movie, in the classic movie theater in December. The theater is usually full and people either dress up in ugly sweaters or costumes from the movie (there's a contest for both). Everyone sings along with Bing, Danny, Rosemary and the poor woman who died of anorexia before it was anorexia. Anyway, a fun evening--and we just love a happy ending!

    Sheila

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    1. I just wrote a post-a-note to check on 'Home for the Holidays.'

      Your new tradition sounds like great fun. They have classic movies at a theater around here, too. You also remained me of a similar tradition my husband and I did after he became wheelchair bound and invitations got drastically cut because we couldn't get him into most houses. We started going to the movies as a special holiday treat.

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  6. I'll be alone for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, all my family is thousands of miles away and I don't have any close or good friends here. I'm ok with it, my depression is so severe and not responding to treatment that I find it hard to care about anything, really. I AM glad you're having dinner with someone tomorrow. I'm thankful for your blog posts because you almost always make me smile (and that ain't easy these days). By the way I've used that murder joke for years, but mine is usually in response to a problem someone has with someone else. I'll just say "A six foot hole and a bag of lime. Problem solved!" I think it's funny but I do get some looks sometimes, lol. I used to watch those Hallmark movies despite myself but just can't do it anymore. You're spot on in your review though!

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    1. I wish there was some treatment that works for your depression. It's hard to be around happy people and have to fake an interest and mood you don't feel. Gotta keep trying to find a way back, though. I've only had to deal with serious depression that needed treat once in my live, after my husband's stroke when I was under a lot of stress. A little short time Celexa did the trick. But depression from a situation, like that, is easier to treat than organic/chronic depression.

      I just heard that joke on a talk show and it made me laugh and it fit with how I was trying to describe my new found friends.

      Take care....

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  7. I'm grateful for your "niece-in law". Enjoy! :)

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    1. She's really a great person but there will be football served with dinner. LOL

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  8. My go-to holiday movies are: "The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. Watch it every year. On Christmas Eve we usually watched "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott as Scrooge. I think he was unquestionably the best in that role. Also "Miracle on 34th St." with Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara; and "A Christmas Story" based on the childhood memories of humorist Jean Shepherd. I know a lot of people love "It's a Wonderful Life" but I never could make myself watch it all the way through. I thought it was depressing. But that's just me. :) Have a great time tomorrow with your niece-in-law!

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    1. you named my two favorite Christmas movies. And I like them in black and white rather than the colorized versions. I don't remember the Bishop's Wife but I've probably seen it. Never been a fan of A Christmas Carol, though.

      Thanks!

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  9. I prefer spending the day alone. It's an excuse to do exactly as I wish - or nothing at all. I was invited to a pot luck and to a family do in a 600 sq ft home. Neither appealed to me. People feel sad people are alone, but I bet as many enjoy the solitude as feel mournful because they're alone.

    I'll join Paul and tell you I'm thankful for you too! I laugh at your blog more than just about anything. It's a joy.
    '

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    1. 600 sq feet home. That would be hard to host in! But you're so right about people often enjoying solitude but people feel sorry that you're alone.

      Oh, no, between you, Paul and Pippa the pressure is on now to find something fun or funny to write about new. Not sure I can but...

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    2. Oy! No pressure please. You are naturally funny and make everyday life interesting, so it just flows from you.

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  10. There are two things I always do on Thanksgiving: listen to Arlo Guthrie's rendition of "Alice's Restaurant" - all the way through, of course - and watch A Christmas Story for the first time. I saw "first time" because I'll watch it about four times through the season. It's such a reflection of my growing up years in the 1950s, and of the traditions that were part of our life: including the clinkers in the coal furnace and getting my mouth washed out with soap. My mom and I used to watch it and just howl with laughter.

    Thanksgiving's been such a delight ever since the year since my mom and I tooked at each other and said, pretty much in unison, "Why are we eating this turkey, when we both hate it?" The next year, it was apple stuffed pork loin, and I haven't looked back. I did buy a fresh turkey breast this year, and I'm in the process of brining it. With my own cranberry relish and a quart of gravy from the local catering establishment, I've taken care of the leftovers I care about without having to put up with the complications. So easy!

    I'm glad you'll be with some people, but also having some time to yourself. I went to the feed store today and got some bird seed -- everyone gets Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

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    1. I love A Christmas Story! Such iconic touchstones in that movie. "Alice's Restaurant? Didn't you write a blog about Guthrie's music once? If not you should. you are so good at deep dives like it would take to do him justice.

      I know a family who always had seafood for Thanksgiving. So your pork loin doesn't sound strange in the least to me. Sounds great, actually.

      I'll have plenty of time to myself this week and this winter. Got to accept all the invitations that are reasonable for the weather I'd have to drive in.

      Have a great Holiday, everyone!

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  11. Have a wonderful holiday with your family. We are in Southern California for a few weeks and hoping to walk on the beach tomorrow! We managed to leave the East during the snowstorm!
    Leze

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  12. Hope your weather is better when you return. Enjoy the sun and, hopefully, you have smoke free air where you're at.

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  13. I will also be along on Thanksgiving--also Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as my kids decided December 27th would be a good day to celebrate Christmas. I should just kill myself on Christmas Day and give them something to ruin their holidays for the rest of their lives. That would fix 'em. Right?
    I haven't even thought of wearing my coat as yet. As for gloves and a hat--never. After the heat we had this summer, the cold, crisp air feels so good to me. Let's enjoy our movies tomorrow. At least we don't have to dress and go out. LOL

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    1. We had a neighbor who did just that on Christmas day and it did ruin his kid's Christmas for the past 20+ years. I sure wouldn't recommend it. What's a two day delay? You can handle that. Young people have to work things out that we older people don't---to see both sides of their families and also have time alone for their core family. Got to cut them some slack when they are trying, Judy.

      I knew you'd say that about coats, hats and gloves. LOL I didn't think it was hot last summer, never had my air conditioner on. Good thing we don't live together. We'd be fighting over the thermostat.

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  14. If we were in Lansing for TG, I would send you a note right now and say "get in the car and come on over!" You would always be welcome to share the holiday with Rick and me. In fact, that's what we usually do on TG, as kids are with other parents on the "real" day and so we invite friends. (Two of whom, notably, are widowers!)

    OK, let's talk Hallmark Movies. What IS it they put in the airwaves that addicts us to them when we know they are more formulaic than a fairy tale (oh, wait! They ARE fairy tales) and they manipulate you into knots. I'm the same. Some aren't too bad but others...! And they fall in love WAY too fast. I think we could all write one. You have categories and pick from each -- main character: widow/widower, divorced, workaholic, dead parents, sick child mom Love Interest: cute teacher, landlord, boss, blah blah. And yet, we watch. I do too.

    Oh, and spot on about those clothes. If I see one more woman with great toned arms and a strapless dress in the middle of "winter" (filmed in Vancouver in summer, by the way) I'll scream!

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    1. You are sweet. That's a great custom for Thanksgiving. Adult kids often have so much guilt trying to split their time between parents and your way they don't have to worry about you guys being alone.

      I love what you wrote about the Hallmark Movies and maybe you hit on the secret of why they are addictive. We COULD all write one. Last night there was a brand new one about two florists who fell in love. It was great fun to pick apart. One of the shops looking like an investment broker's suite...just an arrangement on the reception desk. The head designer wore three piece suits, had a big office and did watercolor paintings to plan his arrangements. That just cracked me up. I think it's my new favorite 'Rocky Horror Picture Show.' And in another movie I saw last night the girl was in a sleeveless dress outside and the guy knelt down in the snow to propose, no sign that either one of them was cold!

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  15. Grateful for you, my far away friend. ❤️

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  16. Thank you! I am truly grateful for you and everyone who stops by to read and "chat" from time to time.

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  17. This was a great post and I'm grateful that you blog. My niece loves the Hallmark channel. She lives alone, and she says she curls up on the sofa and watches her "real life" shows. I laugh because we know they are anything but real, but it would be a harsh world if we couldn't escape once in a while. Who could possibly take the reality that is our world today 24/7?

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    1. We all need a form of escapism that isn't harmful to ourselves or others. Some people turn their noses up at Hallmark movies they're no different than watching sports; you know by the end of the game someone is going to win and someone is going to lose.

      Hope you had a good holiday! I love your blog.

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  18. Glad you had some company on Thanksgiving after all. And now you have roast beef in the fridge for a bonus meal (or two)!

    I'm glad I don't have cable; picking apart those horrifically written Hallmark schlock films would give me (a creative writing teacher) a migraine. I taught how to write fiction and drama for 25 years. Sounds like those movies are NOT IT.

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    1. If the Hallmark Channel had been around when they made 'Miracle of 34th Street' it would have fit right in. Two lonely people find love over the holidays. And look how long that movie has been adored by generation after generation.

      Hallmark churns out a lot of two hour movies, some set in great locations. The acting is good quality and I figure their stable of actors must be quick studies because you'll see them over and over. It's all in the writing of the scripts---they're formula to the core. No real surprises, no evil. I guess sometimes we all need predictably in our fiction especially when the world around is anything but predictable. As a former teacher you'd either love them or hate them...love them because you can pick them apart so easily or hate them for the same reason. They are fiction but not high drama.

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