Sparkle on!

AGMA’s out of control…

So much to do; so little time.  Getting back from our trip on 12/7 has given me a massive holiday headache.  Ouch!

The 2nd New Zealand travel post needs to simmer until after the holidays.

Until then, ya’ll can be mildly amused by my holiday post from 2014.  Was true then; is true now.

Glitter.  Everywhere.

Merry, merry!!

The AGMA Christmas Card Conspiracy Theory

Sparkle2

I think I’ve figured it out…  I know how the Chinese are going to take over the world.  Or at least the parts of the world that send glittery greeting cards

I wonder if anybody will believe me?

Last year, I bought some 75% off holiday cards after Christmas to send this year.  Yeah – I’m cheap.  I liked them because they have pretty sparkles.  They were made in China.

I bought some extra Christmas cards a few weeks ago because I needed more.  They also have pretty sparkles on them.  They were made in China.

Most of the Christmas cards I’ve received this year so far have pretty sparkles on them.  I checked the backs of each card.  They were made in China.

My sister has a late December birthday.  I bought a birthday card for her that has pretty sparkle balloons over the birthday cake on the front.  You guessed it –  made in China.

Hmmm – now I’m not the sharpest needle in the haystack, but I think I’m seeing a common thread…

Think about it.  As soon as you take those cards out of the box, those damn sparkles go everywhere.  I opened a sparkly card last week on the kitchen counter near the phone.  Later in the day, I found sparkles on our cooktop which is across the room.  Huh?

Accident?  I don’t think so…

We have cats.  The sparkles get on the floor.  Our cats daintily prance through the errant sparkles on the floor getting them on their paws.  They’re now carriers.

The sparkles get on the kitchen counters.  All over the kitchen counters.  The cats aren’t allowed on the counters.  Yeah – right. Telling a cat “No!” works so well…

So their paws end up covered in sparkles.  At this point, because cats will not be denied access anywhere, you start finding sparkles all over the house.   Literally, everywhere.  Really, in places that would shock and surprise you.

And I realized – it’s all an ingenious, insidious plot.  They’re using our pets against us to spread the sparkles.  It’s like something you’d find on The Sci-Fi channel.

“What’s there to fear from a few ill placed sparkles?” you ask.  Other than you don’t feel like sparkles in your morning coffee.  Or your scrambled eggs.  Or stuck to your boob.

It’s “just” sparkles now my friends, but what about next year?  Or the year after?

Scientists are already working on making graphene practical for use in computers and everyday electronics.  In case you don’t know, graphene is a carbon sheet only one atom thick.  It’s the new miracle substance that is supposed to revolutionize the electronics industry because it conducts electricity 100 faster than the silcone.  Stronger than steel but flexible, it’s a nano-sized superconductor.  Seriously, this stuff if pretty darned amazing.

But one atom thick?  Gosh, that’s teeny, tiny, itty-bitty.  Small enough to fit on something really tiny.  Really tiny like – oh, I don’t know – a sparkle maybe?

And so it begins…

Again, I’m not the fastest pony in the stable, but sometimes I can connect the dots.

Today it’s a sparkle.  Tomorrow it’s a digital communications tool the size of a piece of glitter stuck to your ass beaming all of your junk over to the Chinese version YouTube.

Merry Christmas Beijing.

 

Christmas rewind

ornaments

Whoa.

Christmas is over already? What?

And it’s 2018 already? When did that happen?

Well – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ya’ll! A bit late…

AGMA’s been taking an mini-sabatical. Unplanned.

Between spending a week in Chicago for Christmas and catching a pretty bad cold from TMAGCITW (otherwise known as the adorable walking petrie dishes), finding the time and energy to write’s been challenging. Actually, finding the time and energy for most of AGMA’s recreational activities has been challenging.

No running, no writing, no reading.

‘shame since I have Fire and Fury downloaded on my Fire. I just haven’t regained quite enough strength to tackle the inside scoop on our like, really smart, stable genius Twit-in-Chief.

OMG – I think I threw up a little in my mouth.

Since it’s early January, AGMA did muster the strength to take the Christmas tree down with Hubs this past weekend. We sucessfully wrestled all 4 sections into the box in the garage.

Score!

11 years ago, we gave up, after 30 years, having a fresh cut Christmas tree. It was traumatic.

For nearly all of those 30 years, we went to a “cut you own” tree farm outside of Cincinnati. And for about 20 of those years, we plunged deep into the bowels of the tree farm to find the Griswold Family perfect Christmas tree and cut it down. We DID remember to bring a saw… Then Hubs and I schlepped the tree 1/2 mile back to the parking lot. And onto the top of the car.

Imagine our euphoria those last 10 or so years when our two strong sons we old enough and big enough to take over the schlepping duties!

But we had built some beautiful family traditions around our annual Christmas tree farm visit. Traditions that disappeared when we moved to Georgia.

AGMA has this thing about traditions. I hate to let them go.  My head told me it was okay for multiple reasons, but my heart was sad.

It’s difficult to say goodbye to some seasons of life.

But our 11 year old artificial tree is big and pretty and doesn’t need water and doesn’t drop needles and looks pretty realistic.

Hubs bought our first tree Christmas Eve 1976 for $5 from a gas station tree lot. He brought it back to our apartment, decorated it with lights he got at the drug store, and surprised me when I got back from a doctors appointment. No ornaments; just lights.

To a 22 year old AGMA, it was beautiful.

Things have changed since 1976. This year, there were still lights on the tree. And some garland. And 184 ornaments. That’s 1 – 8 – 4.

To a 63 year old AGMA, it was beautiful.

The tree was up and decorated when my son and his family visited us in mid-December (see the Pink Paradise post…) My DIL asked me, “How did you get so many ornaments?”

“A lifetime of collecting.” I answered.

My answer hit me like a ton of bricks. It HAS been a lifetime since I’ve been collecting ornaments.

Holy sh*t!

And almost every one has a story to tell about our family. It takes me a long time to hang them all on the tree because I like to hold them and remember…

Some hung on our Christmas tree when AGMA was a child. They’re old!  I have “Welcome baby” ornaments from 1982 and 1984. And 2014. Poor V doesn’t have one!

Some ornaments were made by my sons when they were children. There are intricate dough ornaments I bought in 1987 from my neighbor’s sister. 30 years is a pretty good life for ornaments made of flour and water!

Of course, there are many, many ornaments from our travels. And ornaments that others have given us from their travels.

I have ornaments that aren’t really ornaments, but AGMA made them into ornaments.

We have a set of The 12 Days of Christmas ornaments I bought in the 80’s, a particularly happy time in my life. A lovely local family in Cincinnati who worked in ceramics started designing them in 1981 and produced a new “day” ornament every year. They accelerated their production and completed the last 4 in 2 years due to family illness.  These are some of my most treasured ornaments because they are so beautiful and were purchased during a season of AGMA acute happiness.

Sadly, the entire family has passed on – the mother, father and two children (who would be in their 60’s had they lived), but I think of them every year at Christmas. I remember how gifted and warm and welcoming they all were when I hold their creations in my hands.

And how life was so sweet.

Many ornaments have been retired over the course of 41 years. And there have been ornament ‘casualities’. Some of our dough ornaments have lost appendages. Other ornaments are missing the hangy things. A few years ago, one of my childhood ornaments was broken. And this year we lost a glass Santa from Ireland my sister gave us. But they were all individual ornaments, not part of a set.

AGMA knows that it’s just a matter of time before one of my 12 Days gets broken. And it will be irreplaceable. And I will be devastated in a First World Problem kind of way.

But I think that maybe it could be a sign from the Universe that it’s time to move into a new season.

Or in AGMA’s case, dragged kicking and screaming into a new season.

A season of dispersing instead of collecting. A season for a tabletop tree rather than a 9 foot monster.

A season of greater simplicity as I get ever closer with each passing year to encountering Child of Bethlehem in person.

Until then, I’m going to go for 190 ornaments next Christmas.

Happy 2018 my friends!!

 

Ho ho ho dammit

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas2

It’s been a weird lead up to Christmas here in AGMAland.

After going away to Germany and France last year in December, I swore that I’d never go away right before Christmas. Things just were too hectic; too discombobulated.

No time to do Advent devotionals or meditate on the the true meaning of Christmas. Ohmmmmm…

The Christmas tree went up late, the baking was done late and there were no AGMA holiday cards sent.

So naturally we decided to go away again this year right before Christmas.

We got home from Australia on 12/1, but we might as well have gotten back last week.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve hung 4 wreaths, put 4 fake poinsettia plants around the house, and put my 1964 scary stuffed Santa out. The under the tree manger set-up is still in our attic. Our artificial tree has been up for a week or so, sans decorations. I finally got around to hanging some ornaments on it last night.

Three days before Christmas.

Unheard of.

AGMA’s jumping on the minimalist bandwagon this year and have a minimally decorated home and tree. After 40+ years of Christmas decorating, we have tons of house decorations and a sh*tload of ornaments. That all takes time to unpack, unwrap, hang, then take down and wrap up again in a week to store away for next year.

Basically, I’m being lazy.

I also did all my baking yesterday. AGMA’s Christmas baking consists of three types of cookies so it’s really not as labor intensive as it sounds. It just takes time to roll each one of those little damn cookies in the nuts.

I was drinking spiked eggnog all night so it all worked out.

I don’t normally wait to do all this stuff only a few days before Christmas.

Old AGMA would have been going crazy waiting so late. Decorating the house and tree, and doing the baking were essential to have a successful Christmas. At least I thought so.

It really didn’t seem to have much to do with what it all means.

No wonder I felt let down deep inside. My family couldn’t see it, but it was there. Emptiness where there should be an abundant overflowing of fullness. Sadness when there should be joy beyond measure.

AGMA was kind of a AGMess.

But this year’s different. This year I get it. Again. I got it for a while as a child and teenager, and then when I was in my 40’s. But I lost it to time, life, circumstances…

Two very different things have helped me in my “rediscovery” of the babe in a creche.

#1 – Donald Trump. Weird right? It’s a very long story and I’m not even sure I can explain it. And I feel pretty sure you wouldn’t want me to try. AGMA has a tendency to blather.

But in the midst of the incredible hate and corruption and greed and danger that this unpresident elect and his evil hench people represents to humanity, I feel the movement of the incredible power of Love.

I see the face of a young middle eastern brown man with gnarled hands from woodworking with gentle, slightly sad eyes, and a heart that is both human and divine.

I hear this young man say, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you,” I also hear him say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, the meek, those who mourn, the merciful, the poor in spirit…” And finally, I hear him whisper to my heart, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

#2 – Ken. Ken was a good friend of mine at my church. He was a big man in his 50’s who went through a dark valley of alcohol and drug addiction for 25 years and came out on the other side injured, but alive.

He always had a smile for everybody and always called me beautiful.

AGMA liked that.

I have never met anybody who lived a more anti-Trump lifestyle. He was a man living on a meager disability income, yet who would take somebody living in poverty to Walmart and buy his groceries. He was devoted to the care of his 80 something mother. He drove people who didn’t drive to their doctor appointments. He recorded magazines and circulars for the blind – he had a great voice. He served weekly at our church’s Saturday dinner for the homeless. He lived his life serving others in gratitude for his own salvation from his dark night of the soul. What little he had, he gave gladly from his heart.

Like I said, the anti-Trump.

Ken died suddenly last week. It was his heart.

And my heart is broken. I’m still in shock.

I have it from people who are in the know that his last words were to tell his mom he loved her. That was so Ken…

The day I found out Ken had passed, I made him a promise. I promised to love more. Not only love more, but love with wreckless abandon like he did, not holding anything back. To love without regard to merit or status or color or nationality or religion or politics.

To try to love as I am loved, as the whole world is loved, by the child in the manger.

The child who grew up to be the young middle eastern brown man who taught Ken to give everything in the name of Love.

And I’ve felt that Love coursing through me. It’s really indescribable. And amazing.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

With thanks to Dr. Suess…

Grinchy AGMA says may Love fill your home this holiday season!

My very bad, terrible, wonderful, magical Christmas

Depressinghotel

Well…I didn’t expect that.

I didn’t expect that two weeks would go by without me posting a thing.  But it was a long week last week.  Crazy.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  If you’re a glass half-empty person like me, you want the bad news first.  Half-empties always want the bad news first.  The bad news is always going to be much worse on bad news scale from 1 to 10 than the good news is going to be good on the good news scale from 1 to 10. So it just makes sense to get the bad news first, wallow in the misery and get it over with.  Got it?  It’s just how we roll…

But this time I’ll give you the good news first.

I’m a Grandma!

My son’s wife delivered a truly beautiful, albeit alien-looking, little boy a few days before Christmas in Chicago.  All newborns have that ET look about them don’t they?  Mother and son are doing fine.  My son is positively euphoric.  That’s nice to see.

The little guy was late.  Hmmm – I hope he doesn’t make this a habit.  But this was more good news for us because we were able to be there for the birth.  Well, not actually in the room.  Yuck.  But close by.  We had flown up a few days earlier and our younger son got there that morning, just in the nick of time.

Funny story that; I was actually a bit “under the influence” when he was born.  Although I was convinced that he was going to make his appearance the same day my DIL went into labor, everybody else poo poo-ed me.  “Poo poo,” they said, “she won’t have him until tomorrow morning.”  So they sent us all home.  Or in our case, back to our hotel.

More about the hotel later…

Knowing that a baby was coming sooner or later, the three of us celebrated with a few glasses of Champagne.  Okay – not REAL Champagne, but close enough.  It had bubbles.

Wouldn’t you know it, after I downed my third glass, I got a text that she was pushing.  The next text told us to high-tail it over to the hospital.  I don’t like to say I told you so, but…  I hate it that I’m most always right.

Thirty minutes later, I officially became a grandma.  A somewhat tipsy grandma.  It pains me to think that every time the little guy catches a whiff of the scent of alcohol he may have flashbacks to me breathing in his face saying “Hi little guy!” in slightly slurred speech. True story.  I’m kind of a cheap drunk.

Now for the bad news.  Our trip to Chicago was six days of non-stop family.  Her family and our family.  Nonstop.  I like family and all but, seriously?

Since my blog is anonymous, and my family and extended family doesn’t know about it (thank God!), I couldn’t write anything.  It seemed like people were always around me.  Or I was sleeping.  Too much togetherness; I like and need my alone time.  Honestly, the only time I was truly by myself was in the bathroom.  I’m not inspired to write while I’m in the bathroom.  At least not about stuff you’d want to read.

So I couldn’t write any posts last week.  Frowny face.

The other bad news.  We weren’t allowed to stay with my son and DIL, so we stayed in a hotel the entire time.  And even though they came into town the same day we did, her parents were allowed stayed at my son’s place.  What the hell?  They did have to move on Christmas day.  They went to stay with their other daughter who lives about mile away who has two extra bedrooms.  She lived a mile away all along and had extra bedrooms all along.  But we were in a hotel.  We just love being the guy’s parents….

I’ve decided that spending Christmas in a hotel sucks.  My son and DIL brought the baby home on Christmas day, so everybody else was “on hold” until the new family felt somewhat settled.  This didn’t happen until 7 PM Christmas evening.

So on Christmas day, we wasted time.  We went to Starbucks for brunch and coffee.  We went to a movie.  We hung around the hotel room.  We went to dinner at a Thai restaurant.  It was definitely an unconventional Christmas.

For six days, it was non-stop family togetherness, and hurry up and wait.  I don’t do either of those very well.  Clearly.

But I have a picture of the little guy as the wallpaper on my phone and I say hi to him every time I turn the screen on.  Honestly, I hate to sound like a cliche, but it kind of melts my heart every time I see his sweet, alien-like face.  I never thought I’d be excited to travel to Chicago in the middle of winter, but I can’t wait to go back to see him at the end of January.

Okay, so this time the good news outweighed the bad news for this glass half-empty Grinch.  I give it a 10 on the good news scale. Screw the bad news.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays a little late!