Gift Theory

I have a few theories based on historical data about my (Santa) Christmas gifts to my kids, husband, and self. Since our youngest is still a believer, we all benefit from the red-suited guy and his magical offerings.

  1. Hannah will love her gift for four months until it’s out of style.
  2. Sarah will love her gift, but after 48 hours it will need to be cleaned up and then it will mysteriously disappear.
  3. Carolyn will love her gift for precisely four weeks, then it will rotate with the other fifty she loves.
  4. Nova will laugh at his gift and shake his head, and eventually give it back to me or give it to someone else.
  5. I will use my gift every single week until next Christmas when Santa brings a new one.

Have you formulated any guesses? Hannah’s is clothes, Sarah’s is a circuit game with batteries and connections that make things glow or rotate, Carolyn’s is a stuffed dog (with a game code), Nova’s is a workout band and jump-rope that (in theory) he can take to work; except last year when Santa brought him Nicorette gum, it was a complete waste (and rather expensive). And mine is a running log that I buy online every year and Santa always brings a new one–I know, so predictable, but Santa loves me for that.

Can you theorize why I can post this without my darling family members finding out their gifts? That’s right! They don’t read my blog. Wonder if Santa can do something about that?



The Missus

This is an excerpt (okay, the only part that’s written) from my latest idea for a holiday novel called “The Missus,” a warm comedy about Mrs. Claus trying to fix Christmas, getting wrapped up in publicity stunts and women’s rights movements, and ultimately discovering that the magic of Santa Claus depends on the strength of their marriage. Totally Hallmark, huh? Feel free to leave comments and suggestions as this idea (and the prose) is in its infancy.

Chapter 1: The Message

The door creaked open and Santa ambled toward the bed, dragging his heavy boots with each step before he slumped onto the bedcovers facing the ceiling. A puff of air escaped his chapped lips. “Done.”

Jessica had been sitting upright against her pillows, reading the latest Jodi Picoult novel. “Do you realize how close you were? You had the ETTs scared out of their wits.”

“You can tell the Elvin Time Team I’m doing my best, and I pulled it off, that’s what matters, right? If we had more magic, I wouldn’t have to hurry so much.”

“I don’t know what happened to your magic this year. I certainly didn’t use it. I still think you—“

“I don’t have a thief, Jessica. There is no inside job going on here. We didn’t produce enough and the demand is high—there’s so many kids and so many needs, I’m just trying to keep up! It would help if you were a more supportive wife sometimes!”

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When Food Touches

With three girls and a husband who will eat anything, I intimately know four distinct persons and their taste buds. No single day highlights those differences more than Thanksgiving. The holiday offers its mainstays, and I enjoy them all, so I make them all. Rest assured I’m not an overachiever at this task, no Martha Stewart in this house; I usually make the easiest variety of everything. And no single item is as easy as the Ocean Spray cranberry sauce from a can (the smooth one, not the chunky one) because that is my husband’s favorite, even over the homemade variety I made several years ago. This is one item, however, my youngest won’t eat and my two older girls only tolerate. And therein starts the discussion…

One loves mashed potatoes, but the other two are so-so on the taters. Two kids love stuffing; all three like the turkey, but one will eat more than the others; one likes her bread almost doughy so if I mess up and undercook dinner rolls, she’s happy. One only likes the marshmallow topping on the sweet potatoes, not the gross mushy stuff underneath. One will always ask for more ambrosia fruit salad. One does not want any food to touch each other—including gravy touching what it’s not supposed to touch. She’ll even rinse off her plate before reloading to make sure no remnants contaminate fresh helpings. And then there’s my husband who doesn’t take a bite unless things are mixed together.  None of the kids like pecan pie and my husband thinks it’s too sweet, but my in-laws and I like it in small pieces, so we had some, but I’ll probably be eating the rest myself.Two will only have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but it won’t compete with chocolate or ice cream on subsequent left-over days. And all three of my kids won’t eat the crust at the end of the pie slices, so they give them to me. Love me some pie crust.

And these are the details that fill my brain: Who eats what and how. I hope there’s still room in my mind for when they grow up and have their own husbands and kids, because multiple grandkids generated from these three will probably all have modified taste buds, too. Except that’s probably a task I can leave up to the parents and establish my number one house rule—Okay, kids, if you come over to Grandma’s you’re eating what Grandma makes and it might be mushy or doughy or instant or from a can, but if you don’t want your crust, Grandma’ll help you out, and she’ll even give you a hug (or a fist-bump, you know, depending on your preference).


Odds Come Stacked, Really High

Why is it so satisfying when an underdog wins? Is it because we like when someone beats the odds even though we (as a society) created them? We like when expectations are thwarted even though we (as a society) set them? We like the little, disadvantaged contestants with big dreams and even bigger hearts even though we (as a–you know) idolize the privileged ones?

But nearly everyone starts as the underdog, right? With few exceptions, success is usually very much earned after plentiful blood, sweat and tears. At least that’s my perception. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. You have to start on the bottom and work your way up. You have to work in the trenches for a while, finding talent, gaining skills, keeping goals and striving to improve every day. I always seem to be hoping for something better—whether in healthcare or writing. I root for the underdog because every day I feel that pressure to beat the odds, to rise above a collective mediocrity, and resist the temptation to fall into complacency and give up.

As a nurse, I feel like the underdog just about every shift; hoping I won’t fall behind or have delicate issues that demand more time, trying to find that elusive sliver of time to take a thirty minute lunch break. The chances of getting everything I’d like to get done (i.e. spend time with patients, aggressive mobility, thorough education, etc.) actually done? My guess is one or two shifts in a year (shhh, don’t tell my nursing students). But I’m not kidding. If I manage to clock out on time, that’s a victory to celebrate—the underdog beats the odds!

And as a new writer seeking publication, underdog is an under-statement. Wendy Keller, a literary agent, posted this gem of reality on her website: “Agencies like mine typically reject 99.5% of everything they see. Out of close to 500 queries a month we receive, we invite perhaps 50 proposals for review. Out of that fifty, perhaps one or sometimes two is ready to be delivered to publishers.” Another site suggested the odds are 1,000 to 1. Another was slightly more favorable at 5%–they must have been having a great hair day. As you can see the odds are stacked really, really, about-to-topple over high.

So, hats off to the underdogs who keep moving ahead with big dreams and big hearts, knowing full well the odds are tough, but are not afraid to try. Or, like me, are really afraid, but do it anyway.

Writing Excuse #12 (aka The Dreaded Flu Shot)

You’ll have to excuse my lack of writing today; it is time to take my three beautiful, talented daughters to the doctor’s office for flu shots. Based on historical evidence, I predict a) my oldest will be the biggest baby and psyche herself out, b) my middle daughter will be initially brave, then either nearly or completely pass out afterward, and c) youngest will feed off the other two and display an accumulative combination of older sisters’ behavior traits.

Have mercy on me.

Seasons’ Fleeting

Breath in air

Never lingers;

Each year gloves

Need longer fingers.

Snow most special

Ne’er a bother.

Magic substance

Chore for father.

Snowy sludge

Tracks on floor

As rosy faces

Forgot the door.

Dog gets out,

Gusts come in,

Hats come off,

Gloves in bin.

Requests for cocoa

Just can’t deny

For mother knows

Seasons fly.