Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Holiday Memories

When I was a child I adored the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas because there was so much buzz and excitement. I remember my mom being so stressed during that time and could never figure it out. But now, as an adult, I get it!

Rush, rush, rush! Buy this gift for that person. Go to this party or that function. Fight the crowds at the malls. What's wrong with this picture? I think it's easy to forget the true meaning of the holidays. Here are some of my favorite memories from childhood.

* Putting up the Christmas tree. It was definitely more fun for us kids than my parents (especially when the tree fell down by accident while decorating).
* Baking banana nut bread. I can still smell the sweet aroma. My mom did several loaves as gifts for the nuns at my grade school. Little did she know, these were the women who continually slapped me on the arm with their scary rulers!
* Making spritz cookies. My granny had this cool copper and aluminum spritzer with lots of shapes. What fun! I still have the spritzer today but it's a bit dusty.
* Delivering an anonymous gift each year to friends of my parents. My mom sang in the choir at midnight mass. We'd then sneak down the street in our car, turn the lights off and place the present on their doorstep, ring the bell and run! It was always some crazy joke gift. Then, they'd call us at 2 am when we arrived home, and we'd laugh so hard we'd cry.
* We had a giant reindeer head with a red light for his nose. We hung it on our front porch each Christmas and plugged it in. We lived on a busy street and he stopped traffic every year. I think he even made the local newspaper. We nicknamed him Rudolph of course!
* Sneaking downstairs at 5 am Christmas morning to look at all the presents and hear the still quiet or look out at the powdered sugar snow. It was magical!
* Breakfast of egg casserole and eggnog after we opened presents.
* Leaving cookies and milk for Santa on the fireplace hearth. I should have suspected when they were my dad's favorite brand of cookies!
* Christmas caroling with the Girl Scouts -- except for one year. My friend Kathleen, who had beautiful, long black hair, had her flowy locks burned by someones's candle . That was scary!

Ahhh. To be a child again with visions of sugar plums...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hospitals and Holidays

Well, I'm finally back. Sorry for my absence, but in our life, if it's holiday time, someone goes into the hospital. This year was no exception.

While I certainly did not mean for this blog to be all about health care and my family's ailments, there's been a lot of them in the last year or so -- hoping maybe what I learn along the way can be passed on to others.

Just when I thought we were getting my parents settled into their new living quarters, my dad awoke ill one morning and was hospitalized for two weeks. That was just the beginning. Then there was my mother -- who insisted on staying in his room the entire time -- leaving only to go to the cafeteria for food a few times (or when we forced her to get out into daylight).

It was rough, but there were bits and pieces of humor. My dad thought he was a general in the Russian Army. He told me he was Secretary of State. He said that the aliens were plotting and that we needed to be careful. He also thought he was in a prison (that one I can understand!).

At any rate, I drove the doctors and the nurses nuts because I am an Internet freak and know enough about health care to be dangerous (and annoying). I was constantly online looking up my dad's symptoms, going over old doctor's and hospital notes from previous years, etc. trying to diagnose his condition. One physician had to ask me to "stay off the Internet"! It's simple. My dad has pneumonia and a serious bacteria growing in his lungs. For someone who is almost 80, this is not good.

He is out of the hospital but recovering at a facility in what I'll refer to as "quarantined" for at least 6 weeks. Everyone has to wear bunny suits, latex gloves and masks when they go in to see him.

While I love all the discoveries modern medicine has to offer, sometimes it feels like a double-edge sword. Is this really how we want to live our lives in the later years?