Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Puddle Stomping. Because, MUD!

They say that the definition of crazy is the act of repeating the same behavior over and over, expecting a different outcome.

Sounds almost like the definition of tradition, where we repeat the same thing over and over, right? Except with traditions, we expect the same outcome repeatedly, as opposed to a different one.

Honestly, they both sound a little nutty.

But, I am a girl who likes tradition. Traditions - specifically family ones - make me feel warm and fuzzy, remind me of what it was like being a little girl in a huge family, and let me get excited for holidays and birthdays, as well as the wintertime in general (which, with my disdain for Oregon's rainy climate, is welcomed). Call me crazy, I like a good tradition.

Prime example? The Sauvie's Island pumpkin patch, where my family has spent a rainy, cold, weekend October morning since the dawn of time. Or at least since I can remember. Our parents would bundle us up, put us in our boots, and head all the way there, where we could check out the animal barn, maybe have some corn on the cob or a hot chocolate, and take a bumpy hay ride out to a field, where we got to pick out our perfect pumpkins. This has long been a favorite family tradition of mine, because it's one that kicks off the holiday season, and because my cousin Stacey and I always had such a great time together, planning the day (except those couple of years we hated each other's guts, but we just leave those days out).

When we were younger, the whole family would go, and we would always head back - wet and muddy - to BBQ at Grandma and Grandpa Stacey's house. We'd change into dry clothes, eat chips and hot dogs, and play in the back yard or climb the honey tree. Every year, we never missed it, and every year, it was my favorite thing about the fall. Stacey and I had a strange love of puddle stomping (okay technically we still do), and it seemed to be the one day that the whole family had nowhere else to be, so we could spend hours on end together.

Stacey and I have made an effort to continue this tradition into adulthood, even when it's just her and I. It's still a great day, always. The past few years, it's ended up being just us and Blake, her parents and my mom, and we've continued to enjoy our cold, wet, muddy days in the animal barn and on the tractor ride. And it has continued to be my favorite fall tradition - one that Blake and I talk about, because I hope he has the same love for it.

Blake has been to the pumpkin patch exactly four times in his three years of life. The first year, we tried a new patch; he was a newborn and I spent the day with him in the front pack (I love to wear babies), and the way he now describes this trip is, "that day I throwed up on you, auntie." The next year, we went back to Sauvie's Island, because we missed it; and at about 14 months old, he came running from the barn and for the first time, shouted "VERONICA!!" And then proceeded not to say it again for about a year. Last year, I bought him a bag of popcorn the size of his whole body and said he could carry it but to wait to open it until we were in the car - he dumped half of it in the mud after not listening to me. And this year, on the tractor ride, he says "This sure is bumpy...if we all off, do you think they'll leave us here??" I love seeing the way he enjoys it, and the way he remembers things from the year before - he remembers there was an animal barn and a tractor from the year before, and I love it.

I am a girl who likes a good tradition. But I am learning that what I really like the best about those traditions, is feeling like I have a complete family, a place where I am always loved and supported and taken care of, and a group of people who want to make an effort to be together. I appreciate so much that my mom's family still has that - it doesn't happen as often, and there are sometimes people who have to miss it, but overall, we still all make that effort to be together, to be laughing and having fun, and to be a family. I am just so eternally grateful for my mom and her family, my cousins and their babies, and my role in our big, loud, fun family unit.

So, today (and most days) I am thankful for the traditions I grew up with, the ones that were important to me as a kid that are still important to me now, the ones that change a little over time, the ones that stay exactly the same, and the ones that are starting out as new ones. Happy Thanksgiving to the family I love the very most!

Jingle My Bells

I've had a hard time finding the holiday spirit this year; I've been stressed in a new position at work, my family cancelled our big Thanksgiving, I am not celebrating with my dad's family, and I've just been feeling quite *blah* the past few weeks.

In discussing this lackluster holiday spirit in therapy this week, I learned that following the loss of someone important, anniversaries of that loss are prone to affect you psychologically, likely forever. We talked a lot about how my holidays have looked over the past five years since losing Grandma and Grandpa, and it was actually really interesting to see that no matter what else has been going on in my life - good or bad - I have had a rough time getting through the month of November in one piece. And based on what I've learned about the psychological effect of loss on the brain, I most likely always will. So be it. 

And yet, despite that I have been in an overall bad mood, I am still reminded of all that I have to be thankful for this year. Because in all honesty, my life - even when I'm stressed or sad - is pretty damn good. My world is full of love and support, and I can recognize that I have so much to be happy about, even when I am feeling sad. 

I am especially thankful this year, for a new level of financial independence. I moved in on site at my property, got a roommate, and then followed it up with three pay increases. I finally have a cushion, a fall back, some wiggle room. I have been able to help people out when they've needed it, or treat my staff to a nice lunch when they earned it. I have been able to buy a new car, pay off some medical bills, and even take some vacations. I finally feel like I am not on the verge of financial breakdown with something as simple as a flat tire, and that is a huge relief - and one that I am really damn proud of and grateful for. 

I continue to be thankful for my family, for all of the love and support I get from them. There is no shortage of love in my family, even though I have had to grieve the "loss" of what my family used to look like. I am grateful that through the past year of therapy I have been able to adequately grieve and move on from those people who used to be a part of my family and my life, who never will be again, It feels so comforting to know that I am no longer angry and that I have processed these losses in the most healthy way possible. Additionally, it feels even better to know that the people who I choose to allow into my life, have my back, love me, and will support me with the decisions I make for myself. Goodbye and good riddance to those who don't, right? 

I find myself more and more thankful for Kattie and Rachel - my girlfriend and my wifey - almost daily. It is so hard as an adult to make such awesome friendships, and the longer I know them, the more amazed I am by each of them. They make me a better, stronger, healthier, more stable person. They're supportive, they're genuine, they're encouraging, and they're always there - no matter what - when I call. Plus, they celebrate Man Candy Friday with me, so there's definitely that! 

I am thankful for so many things in my life this year - for new and continuing relationships, for new, strong friendships, for lessons learned, moments I'll always remember, dates, trips, vacations, lazy days. In a season that I seem to struggle to stay positive, it makes it a lot easier when I am able to reflect on how much good I have, and really, just to take a second to be truly appreciative of those things. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fuck Yourself This Christmas

Last I checked, I live in America. Last I checked, America is a free country. I mean, don't get me wrong; I'm not jaded enough to think we live in the best country in the world anymore - there's a lot of fucked up shit going on in America, and I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets better. But whatever your political agenda may be, we can all agree that we are technically, a free people.

Every year, as I scour the shelves for "holiday" cards to send to my residents that do't depict Santa, or show a manger, or have the word God or Blessed in the sentiment, and that don't say Merry Christmas, I get fucking pissed. And this year, while trying to plan a holiday movie night event for the property I work at, as I search through lists of Christmas movies looking for one with no religious Catholic/Christian tones, I am - once again - fucking pissed.

This. Is. Fucking. America.

Since when can I not utter the word Christmas in my office?!

I fucking hate political correctness. Hate it. I hate trying to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas "just in case" I offend someone. Guess what - I don't actually give two flying fucks if you are offended! I celebrate Christmas. If I wish you a Merry Christmas, that simply means I am thinking of the season and hope you have a good fucking day. Be a normal person, say thanks, and move the fuck on! If you want to live somewhere that people don't celebrate Christmas, move to - I don't even know...the fucking MOON?! It' Christmas. It's a holiday. I didn't invite you to go to church with me, didn't tell you I'd pray to my Catholic God to try and spare your heathen soul - I simply said, Merry Christmas. Fuck, I don't even go to church. I don't pray. I am pretty much the same heathen you are - so get the fuck over yourself, and stuff your political correctness right up your politically correct ass!

This tirade isn't even really just about Christmas. It's the whole thing. It's the being politically correct in general. I fucking hate it. I don't care about who I offend. I celebrate Christmas, but I wouldn't be offended if I were wished a Hannakuh - I'd just say THANK YOU! It's like when I sneeze and someone says, bless you...I don't tort back that I don't believe in religion. I just say THANKS!

It's the whole fucking thing. It's the people who walk into my office and are mad that I don't speak another language - you know, I had a guy yesterday say, "But your name is Veronica; you should speak Spanish." Oh, okay because that's not a fucking ignorant thing to say?! It's the people who live at my property who argue that they don't have to abide by the rules of their lease because it's in English and they don't speak English (side note, if you don't understand what you are signing, you probably should not fucking sign it). I'm sorry, learn the fucking language of the country you move to. If I moved to Germany, I wouldn't be so fucking ignorant to think I don't need to learn German...I'd fucking learn to speak German! It's the people who are offended by Halloween decorations or Trick-or-Treaters, or who are mad our office is closed on Easter Sunday. You know what? Fuck off. I don't care that you don't celebrate Halloween; I don't get mad at you about it. Don't try to ruin my good time. I don't show up outside of a Catholic church every Sunday morning with a picket sign because I don't believe the Catholic church's pro-life agenda - I just don't. fucking. go. You don't want to see kids in Halloween costumes? Stay home. Keep your kid home from school for the day. You don't want to see anything Christmas related? Blindfold yourself from October through January and get the fuck over it. You live in America, where Christmas is a commercial holiday, and you're going to have to grow some and deal with it.

And then don't be mad when I send you a Christmas card with the sentiment "fuck yourself" scribbled in it. Because by the time I am ready to write my Christmas cards, I am already just fucking pissed that I had to dig for one that was written in six languages, that also didn't have a picture of Santa or an elf or a reindeer or a present or a stocking on it, and that didn't say Merry Christmas inside, and that basically was a plain white, blank sheet of paper, on which I can write nothing but "fuck yourself this Christmas."