Friday, November 27, 2009

And So the Madness Begins ...

Today is Black Friday. The stores are ready for the masses of shoppers who will help their businesses turn a profit. I suppose I’ll be one of them, but I didn’t get up early to stand in line anywhere, and I’m not going to fend off hundreds of other desperate shoppers in order to get a great deal. If I shop at all, it will be in the store where I work, which will be quiet after the 6 am rush, or online.

I’m reading news stories about people so anxious to score the great deals that they actually camp out in front of the stores the day and night before. I saw a news clip featuring a man eating his Thanksgiving dinner on a foil plate, wrapped in his winter coat, huddled in his tent. The last time I camped out in line I was in college, wanting to get a parking sticker for the lot in front of my dorm. My time has gotten a lot more valuable since then.

So, does that mean my loved ones won’t get the best gifts this Christmas? Perhaps. But I look at it this way. By getting a normal night’s sleep, I am more likely to be my cheerful self when Christmas gets here. By not going to the mall, I’m saving on gasoline, which is better for the environment and my financial well-being. By avoiding the crowds, I’m saving the poor sales clerks from having to help me.

I figure I'm doing my part to make this a Merry Christmas for everyone. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Counting My Blessings

Thanksgiving is next Thursday. It’s a four-day weekend for most people. Not so when you’re working in retail. I’m thankful not to have to work on Thanksgiving Day, but I’ll have to put in several hours during the other three days. But I really don’t mind working. I’d rather work than fight the crowds on Black Friday. In any case, I’m thankful for employment during these difficult times.

I’m having family here on Thursday. I HATE to clean. Thankfully, I have grandchildren who are eager to come and earn some spending money by cleaning bathrooms, dusting, and moving things around. It’s worth putting in a few extra hours at work in order to have the cash to give them. And I’m thankful I have grandkids who are industrious enough to work for what they want.

We’ll have the usual assortment of food: ham, turkey, salad, potatoes, beans, and dessert. Thankfully, my husband loves to cook. He’s taking care of the main dish and a few of the sides. And the rest will be provided by my adult kids, who enjoy cooking as much as their father does. I don't mind cooking, but I’m a firm believer that food always tastes better when someone else prepares it. And I fully intend to enjoy this meal. So I am thankful for all the fabulous cooks in this family. And I’m thankful that we have the means to get the food.

We’ll probably play a game or two while the football game is on. My kids love board games and they don’t seem to mind when I join them. I’m not so good at games like Clue, when I have to be logical, or Farkle, when I have to strategize. I’m okay with games requiring useless knowledge, like Trivial Pursuit, but it seems I know more of the answers to everyone else’s questions than the ones directed to me. But I’m thankful that my children don’t share my disabilities.

So I’m thankful for the holiday, because I’ll have a relatively clean house, plenty of food, and family to celebrate with. And I’m thankful that I have a whole month before I have to worry about getting things ready for the next family gathering.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Running, Running, Running ...

human_hamster_wheel_1.jpg Human Hamster Wheel image by aangelinsf

I guess I’m happiest when I’m busy. The more I have on my plate, the more I am able to get done. And when my schedule thins out, so does my energy level. I guess it’s the challenge of making things on my “To Do” list actually happen. But every once in a while, my cup overflows to the point where I wonder which end is up.

Tomorrow is going to be one of those days. It’s the second Saturday of the month, so my writers’ group is meeting for lunch and a program. Right now I’m the secretary, so I have to be there. The president is holding an executive board meeting that morning, and it would be irresponsible of me to not show up.

Tomorrow is also a special day at GVSU. The double reed faculty is hosting its annual Double Reed Day, and oboists and bassoonists are coming to campus to learn from experts, listen to each other play, purchase supplies, and make music. I’ve attended this event the last several years, and always enjoyed it.

Also scheduled tomorrow is a special sale at one of my favorite stores. I need a winter coat. My mother and two daughters plan to go. The sale lasts all day, but who knows what will be left by the time I get there? Anyway, I’m expected to make an appearance, and then join them for dinner.

And then my favorite Creative Memories consultant is holding her Holiday Open House this weekend. I need to go, if only to fill out my annual Christmas Wish List for the benefit of my husband and other family members who like the ease of having someone else take care of obtaining, wrapping, and deliver gifts. Fortunately, she’s letting me come late on Friday.

When I worked full time, I used to long for the days when I wouldn’t have to get up every day and dash around like a madwoman, taking care of my kids’ needs in addition to mine, and keeping up on my students’ needs, parent requests, administrative directives, and all the other stuff. Once I retired, I told myself, things would settle down. Now I know better.

I told my husband that once I leave the house this morning, he probably won’t see me again until Sunday morning. He promised to have the dancing girls out of here by then. I guess he’s got plans, too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Music to My Ears

On Tuesday I went to my grandson’s orchestra concert. It was a long drive from the campus where I teach to the middle school where the concert was held, but I like to attend their events whenever I can. And since I’m a musician, I want to support their musical efforts.

Middle school is such a difficult time for many kids. It’s also a difficult time for many parents and their teachers! I often jokingly refer to one daughter’s teenage years as the time when my IQ started dropping – nothing I did or said made any sense to her. Fortunately, as she matured, my intelligence (or perceived lack therof) miraculously rose. Lots of veteran teachers, myself included, prefer to stay far away from middle school classrooms.

Anyway, I went to the concert, sympathizing with the director, who conducted several different combinations of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from two different buildings. He must have had some very capable helpers backstage, rounding up the different groups of students and sending them on and off the stage at the appropriate times. Each group appeared, seated themselves without any fuss, and applied themselves to performing their music. I was impressed with the way they conducted themselves.

In some circles, it might not be considered “cool” to be involved in school music. Later on, these “cool” non-musicians might regret their choices, but middle school seems to be the point when so many aspiring music makers put down their instruments. So when Scottie decided to play violin, I wondered how long this interest would last.

The fact that he’s still at it after three years tells me he enjoys it, and he’s willing to work on it. The fact that both parents and three grandparents were listening tells me that he’s got the backing of his family. And the fact that he ran across the parking lot to give me a good-bye hug tells me he appreciated my taking the time to go.

I have a great extended family, with kids and grandkids who are well-cared for, and well-taught. Life is good.