My sister is in the process of moving, most likely a plane ride away. Over the past two years, we’ve endlessly talked about her plans while I was processing my own.
A lot of significant changes were on the table. Relationship status, home sales, employment, and aging into a new decade.
Along the way, there were ups and downs, and all around with it, but in the end, everything fell into place as intended.
Now that we’re in the final stretch, the reality of getting on a plane to visit is sinking in on my end.
At 15 months apart, we were raised like twins dressing alike and doing everything together until our teenage years when we had different circles. As we grew into ourselves, we were back together again, having our children together and, most recently, becoming grandmothers.
We’ve been so busy cheering each other on that I haven’t thought about the enormity of this potential distance apart. Yes, I’m happy, proud, and excited about her future ventures, but suddenly I feel nostalgic about what was.
These feelings showed up in my dream last night. I dreamt I was approached by someone requesting I write a passage for their book. It was based on a missing woman, and I was to write it as if I knew the character when we were children. This is how it went.
We were two little girls with big imaginations playing in the basement of our rowhome. We always had each other, never needing outside playmates. As the younger of the duo, I would pretend to be a mother of 4 at the tender age of 9, providing our dolls with the nurturing they deserved. At the same time, my sister, who loved school, bypassed the teacher and went directly to playing a principal, making policy changes, and firing the Barbie and Dawn doll staff members.
On hot Summer nights, fresh from the bath and dressed in matching babydoll pajamas, we would grab our Maxwell House coffee cans with holes punched in the lids to catch fireflies in our yard. We went as far as adding grass to eat while they were being held captive, then, after counting our inventory, we let them go before heading to bed.
I woke up with mixed emotions as I wrote everything down not to forget a signal detail. It shook me on some level. The passages were vivid, and the memories were something I hadn’t thought about in decades. Why now?
Laying in bed, eyes wide open, I thought about those two little girls in the basement. Those roles now look more like survivor skills. Me providing the nurturing, I hungered while my sister did her best to gain control that was nowhere to be found in our house, both happening as we were still playful little girls catching fireflies.
Like us, our parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. I’m grateful for the consciousness to recognize this for what it is without casting blame on myself or my parents.
Now, off to work where things won’t be so deep ❤
Enjoy the Ride!
Considering I only have one day under my belt in 2023, I will do my best to share.
1. Did you stay up to see the New Year?
I did not see 2023 roll in here in the United States. However, a friend in Italy posted the entire shebang 6 hours before via FaceBook. I watched the fireworks and enjoyed an incredible outdoor concert. So, technically I did stay up. This would hold up in a court of law with the right lawyer.
2. Are there any special occasions or events coming up in 2023 for you or your family?
I have four milestone birthday celebrations this year. Three occur in the year’s first half, and the last is at the end of 2023. Last year broke the bank with three weddings and a baby.
3. Do you keep a diary?
No, but I keep a gratitude journal that I hope to become more consistent with this year.
4. How did yesterday differ from January 1st, 2022, or was there n difference?
It was dramatically different. Last year we were in an apartment in Pennsylvania. It was raining, and I took down all of my decorations. This year I am in a new home in another state. The weather was unusually warm and sunny. I went on a 4-mile hike exploring an area of the state park that’s beauty left me stunned, followed by a stroll on the beach where I put my toes in the water.
Gratitude: Be Kind
Word of the day challenge using the convenient choice of the phrase Ornament.
Every year I grow excited when I drag the big green tub labeled “ornaments” from storage. I pop the lid, knowing, but I wonder what I’ll find. Why? A lot has happened since I closed the lid approximately 358 days ago. I’m questioning why I entered a room, for god sake.
I’ll admit that opening the lid was met with little enthusiasm over the past two years. In 2020, my mother had just passed on the 4th of December. My holiday spirit was not present, followed by 2021, when we spent the holidays without family, in an apartment, preparing to move for the second time. Bah Humbug!
However, who was back in town this holiday season? You guessed it, Christine Cringle appeared with a cheerful spirit leading the way as she popped that big green lid. Time lessens the blow.
This year I took extra care as I hung all of our ornaments, starting with the story of notable “firsts” in our lives ranging from our first Christmas together in 1988 to the first one spent as grandparents in 2022. With many in between.
They tell tales from our many family vacations or when our son was obsessed with trains, and our daughter received her black belt in Taekwondo.
We have ornaments from family, friends, neighbors, and even co-workers. They range from a worn Daisy Duck from my sister’s trip to California, a stack of books from the NY Public Library, a Rockette and a glass Ruth Bader Ginsburg from a friend in NYC, to a worn-out toybox from a former boss over 30 years ago and too many snowmen to count from friends.
The unique ornaments donning our names on snowmen, reindeer, and penguins, while our pets have theirs shining on jeweled crowns, are clear reminders of who rules this roost. It’s certainly not the penguins.
Of course, our tree wouldn’t be the same without memorial cardinals representing those celebrating from another realm, including our Chester, who crossed the rainbow bridge years ago.
Then there are the ones representing colleges, sororities, and hobbies, including vehicles from bicycles to motorcycles that always bring a smile and a pause. How many years passed?
For many reasons, I still shake my head at the deer dressed in orange camouflage riding a quad. Why is this even an ornament? But, I reluctantly hang it every year to note the time my son thought he wanted to hunt until he did and decided it wasn’t his thing. Removing history doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
I hang the eldest of our balls last, each year adding more gray hair from the fear of dropping one. Lord knows the survivors have seen many of their comrades hit the floor compliments of kids, pets, and my man hands. Part of me thinks they plunge from the branches on their own.
Although all of the above are loved beyond measure and guaranteed to spread joy throughout the season, the popsicle stick manger and one-eyed reindeer made by little loving hands many moons ago remain favorites.
Enjoy the Ride!
Tonight it’s hot chocolate for me, with a dash of egg nog and whipped cream. Rory is our generous host, and you can join in here to answer some inquisitive questions.
1. Are you more socially or community-minded regarding people, or do you not think there is a difference between the two?
I’d like to think I’m both. I care about the folks close to me and those in the community.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how ethically minded do you think you are?
What behavior do you consider to be ethical?
Hmm, I believe I once was ethical to a fault, probably a 10, due to being conditioned to fear not following the appropriate rules of society compliments of my Catholic upbringing. Now I take the hypocrisy of those teachings into account and drop myself down to a 7.
3. Tattoos are a very personal lifestyle choice by those who have their bodies inked.
So – Do you think tattoos make people more confident or less?
Do tattoos look good on everyone?
I don’t think it’s a matter of confidence, especially today when young people don’t think twice about inking up. My son got his first one when he turned 18. He now has an arm sleeve with an ocean theme and a leg sporting a wilderness theme. It has not stopped him from being a successful member of society.
I think some tattoos look better on some people; for instance, Jason Momoa could sport a turd across his chest, which would be stunning.
4. What enrichment do you personally receive from being social?
Have you become noticeably more socially isolated or socially interactive after the pandemic and the lockdowns? There may be no difference in your social behaviour; if this is the case, let me know below.
I get energized from being social. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brief conversation at the supermarket or a deep conversation with a friend.
I think, if anything, I’ve become more socially selective. The lockdowns certainly spotlighted who and who I don’t want around me. I believe this resulted from my learning more about myself during that time.
5. What would be your top sustainability tip?
Be consistent, and don’t think that your one small change can’t make a difference.
6. We live in a world that treats being open and vulnerable as a taboo and something to be frowned upon, so –
Do you find it easy or hard to talk to your friends and family about your health?
I was raised in a generation where things were not discussed; they were buried under a rug. Therefore, being vulnerable was not front and center. I don’t have a problem discussing health, but I admit I don’t discuss it with everyone.
The younger generations today seem very open, almost shocking us when they start dropping their vulnerability. I love that they feel free enough to do so.
7. What will you be doing this weekend?
Our daughter is in town for the holiday. Today we did some volunteering and went out to a late lunch. Tomorrow we plan to have a big breakfast, open gifts, and go for a walk once the temperature hits 30. It’s brutally cold here today, so staying warm is also on the list.
8. As the writer and author of your blog, how connected do you feel to your audience?
It’s funny you asked this question. I was just saying I feel closer to some of my fellow bloggers, whom I’ve never met, than I do to those in my life.
9. Does your blog reveal too much, too little, or just the right balance of you to your readers?
It’s a potpourri of information.
10. If you were granted a day at being one of your favorite book characters, who would you choose to be and why?
Ok, my choice comes from a series of children’s books I read to my daughter called Eloise. I loved her spunk and the fact that she lived in the Plaza Hotel in NYC.
11. What do you believe is the greatest threat to our planet today?
Here we are, a week away from celebrating our first Christmas in our new home, and when I decorated the tree, I reflected on the 30 that preceded this one. My tree truly tells the story of a life lived well. Time flies.
I took a stroll down Candy Cane Lane to reminisce on the many phases of Christmas we experienced over the years. Whew, that was a journey.
Our first together was nothing short of a corny Hallmark movie. We shopped for the perfect tree and decorated it together, sipping cocoa while Christmas music played in the background. It’s not corny when you wear a new pair of love goggles.
Then we added back-to-back children, and that Hallmark movie quickly turned into a comedy. Early on, the kids didn’t get the concept, and there was no enthusiasm in the room unless you count mine. Hey, someone had to do it.
When they were 3 and 4 and aware of everything about Santa, mainly how that naughty and nice list worked, giving Mr. and Mrs. Claus permission to threaten their young for a good two months, things turned around. We didn’t make the rules; we just played along.
I enjoyed the Santa years. The wonder and excitement on their faces can always make me smile, along with the homemade ornaments that adorn my tree today. Even the one-eyed reindeer and faded baby Jesus make the cut.
My favorite years were when the kids wanted something so badly that they were willing to sacrifice everything. Nothing else in the world mattered to them at that moment. It was a pink Razor flip phone for my daughter, and for my son, it was an ATV. Let the games begin!
Santa and the Mrs. correction, mostly Mrs., made these dreams come true. The strategic planning that this required was on another level, all while doing everything else life needed. The search for the item, working the numbers, the deadline, pulling off the delivery to make a dream come true, and then, during the presentation, pretending like it was a piece of cake. Forget college degrees; hire a mother.
The teenage years transitioned into the smaller boxes, more significant price tags, or cash-only please phase of Christmas, which felt more like a transaction than a holiday. It was tough for this Cristine Cringle, so the dogs were often dressed as reindeer. Hey, someone had to keep the spirit going.
When significant others entered the picture for a stretch, the spirit resurfaced. The excitement of surprising a mate and the joy of finding “just the right gift” ignited some of that old wonder. Things were merrier.
Then the necessary years rolled in, aka the return from college. There was something special about having two self-proclaimed adults back in the house asking Mrs. Claus for gift cards for food, gas, or beer. No worries, I also included socks, underwear, and laundry detergent to add some cheer.
The independent adult stretch has been long and all over the place. It’s all about family, friends, living spaces, or traveling, leaving Mrs. Claus with the option of home decor or travel bags to fill the sleigh. Does Mrs. Claus have a retirement age?
This year we’re entering another new phase of firsts-first Christmas in our new home. First Christmas as grandparents, First Christmas for our granddaughter, and first time in 31 years, it’s just the two of us again.
We didn’t shop for the perfect tree; our old one is already perfect. The “we” in decorating became I many moons ago, and the sipping hot cocoa was replaced with meeting my daily water intake. However, the Christmas music still played in the background, and the love goggles were still in place, sporting a few scratches on the lenses. Now that’s how Hallmark should do it.
Enjoy the Sleigh Ride!
I’m a day late and tired since I made a round trip yesterday to attend a party. The things we do for fun. Anywho, it’s freezing, and the coffee is poured, so let’s get to it. Rory is waiting over here to read these answers.
1. What actions do you take if you can’t sleep naturally?
Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I find a sleep meditation works well.
2. Can you easily recognize if you are suffering from stress, and if so, what do you do to reduce it? Are you able to see signs of stress in your friends or your family more than you?
Yes. My favorite outlet is to go for a walk.
No, I know when the closest people to me are stressed, but not everyone.
3. The West holds firm concerning the war in Ukraine. However, how do you feel about it all now? Do you believe we are providing too much or too little support?
Oh, is this still going on? I wouldn’t know since we went from 24/7 live coverage to zip. The media has already moved on to the next big thing to distract our attention. Unless you have the time and energy to be your own investigative reporter, you’ll never get the answers. As for support, I see a lot of regular folks stepping up and doing big things to support the victims of this war.
4. How much black-and-white honesty from your best friends do you believe your friendship with them warrants? Should friends be brutally honest with you or provide support without question?
Inspired by Should Friends Offer Honesty or Unconditional Support?
I have friends in my life, and then I have friends. I’ve learned who to go to for brutal honesty and who to go to when I want someone to jump on my bandwagon, and I married the one with a knack for being both.
5. Do you think you have an addictive personality?
No, I don’t think I do because I get bored with things after a while. Maybe that’s a thing, I don’t know.
6. Why are so many of today’s online/television advertisements so cringey? Are you ever influenced by the comedy or corniness of them?
Influenced, no. Intrigued as to why someone thought it was a good idea, yes.
7. Do you ever need help responding to some comments left by readers on your blog posts, as in not knowing how or what to respond with? Why is this, and what usually throws you off?
No, but I don’t usually provide context that would provoke a heavy comment.
8. What five vegetables do you use the most each week or month?
Potatoes, broccoli, mixed greens, carrots, and onions.
9. What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done?
The first thing that comes to mind is I was a balloon handler, or as I like to call it, a Latex Engineer in the Thanksgiving Day parade. The balloon I was engineering was the Dr. Seuss character that speaks for the trees, the Lorax. All I can say about it is that it looks much more manageable than when you’re watching from your sofa.
10. Have your blog reading habits changed since you first started to blog?
Yes, in the beginning, I was feeling overwhelmed by trying to read too many blogs. Now, I know what I like and stick to it.
Have you ever felt frustrated from reading blog posts because they are perhaps not piquing your interest? What have you done to prevent the boredom from biting deep if this is the case?
If it doesn’t catch my interest, I move on. I find this to be true with political rants. I read for peace, not to be aggravated.
11. Do you find it easy to make difficult decisions, and do you have a process of elimination for making those tough decisions?
Yes, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a difficult one. I try to talk it through with a good confidant, weigh the pros and cons, and meditate on it, which usually leads me in the right direction.
12. What’s the longest you have gone without a shower?
2 days while I was sick. It’s amazing how good a shower can feel after that.
13. Between the choice of a deep-fried insect sandwich or a raw earthworm hamburger with no option of declining either, which would you choose?
Inspired by a conversation at the Nature Reserve
I’m going to go with deep-fried because, let’s face it, once it’s fried in that deliciousness, do we really know what’s inside? For all I know, I’ve already eaten a deep-fried insect sandwich.
14. How would your family and friends react if you started to talk to another person one day that no one else could see but you? Do you speak to yourself regularly?
Inspired by the film – Just Like Heaven
Haha! They would hand me a list of questions to ask this person. Other than the occasional profanity outbursts, no. I do, however, talk to myself in my head.
15. How far can you be pushed before annoyance becomes full-blown anger, and what is your anger style?
It takes a lot to anger me, but if it’s something big, so is the reaction. Is volcanic a style? If so, that’s what it is.
Enjoy the Ride!
Rory is our gracious host, and I have met my coffee quota for the day, but here goes.
What motivates you to get up every day?
No motivation is needed from me. I just enjoy getting up every day.
What words have always struck you as funny or odd when looked upon?
Cattywampus. My hubby uses it more than most humans. Why? I have no idea; all I know is no one questions him about it. It’s usually followed by awkward silence.
How often do you read the comments left by other bloggers on other bloggers’ published posts?
Always! It’s the curiosity in me I can’t help myself.
How hard do you work to keep your long-standing friendships alive year in and year out, and do your friends work the same way to keep you?
The friends who did not put in the work have recently been dismissed from their friendship duties. If I have to work hard at a friendship, it’s not a friendship, it’s a job, and I already have one of those.
How many emails do you delete every week?
Oh, sweet baby Jesus, I don’t think numbers go that high.
Are you easily distracted, and what delights you the most?
Yes, and let’s face it, it doesn’t take much.
Have you ever had a strange unexplained encounter that left you shaken and baffled, and if so, what do you think it was? Or what did your brain make you think it was?
Yes. I saw a female ghost floating at the foot of my bed, holding a small box. If a police officer asked me to describe her, there is no doubt I could give a vivid description. I thought it was a female ghost.
Are we more scared of things that go bump in the night when in the dark or equally as concerned if the same thing happens during daylight hours? If so, why do you think that is?
Bumps at any time of the day are alarming because I’m not a big fan of surprises. Bumps in the dark raise the fear factor bar.
What are the magical ingredients for writing a bestseller, and do you think you could write one?
Considering some current bestsellers, I would say the magical ingredients are a boatload of money mixed with notoriety and a hint of basic writing skills.
Well, I don’t think I couldn’t write one, but I currently lack a boat with a load of money or notoriety.
When was the last time you stayed awake all night having fun with another person, and what were you doing?
February 23, 2022, in New York City, enjoying the Elton John concert with a friend.
Would the 18-year-old you recognize the older you if you both collided on the street today? If not, why?
Hell no! That girl would be too naive to accept the possibility of it even happening.
What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
Being the best possible version of myself by raising my consciousness.
Are you more curious, are you more passionate, or are you both?
Hands down curious first, passionate second.
Can you easily recognize your flaws, and do you think it is important?
More so now than when I was younger. I spent too much time focusing on my outer “flaws” while the inner flaws were screaming for attention.
The musical album you loved the most in the last twenty years was…?
This is tough, but I think I’m going with Amy Winehouse Back to Black.
What could you do less of?
There are several answers, but the one that comes to mind is, wasting time.
One of my early childhood dreams was to be a mailman. I say “mailman” because when I was a kid, women were busy being housewives. We did not have “carriers”; we had “men.”
To this day, I can’t explain my attraction to this career path, but if I were to guess, it was probably all of the “hello, how ya doings?” Everyone loved to see him heading down the street.
What was not to love? He was the bearer of cards celebrating special occasions, letters from loved ones, and an occasional check. A celebrity every day.
Don’t get me started on the idle chitchat with folks on the route or an unplanned life-saving event due to mail piling up and actually noticing. I do this now for free.
We’re not going to discuss the bills; they were a given.
I was probably deterred by the rain, snow, and sleet motto, only to find out when writing this essay that it was all a LIE.
“The U.S. Postal Service has no official motto. Nope, it’s not this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” But we certainly appreciate the sentiment.“US Postal Service
No doubt I heard “gloom of night” and said, “I’m out!”
Anyway, fast forward to yesterday when I went to the post office to mail a package containing a book. The book recipient informed me of a book rate that cuts the shipping cost. Who knew? Not me.
However, I was not informed then that an FBI-like interrogation went along with using this discounted rate. Folks, there is always a damn price to pay!
As always, I waited in line for the lone over-worked employee to address me.
Me: I want to mail this box at the book rate, please.
Overworked employee: Is there a book in the box?
OE: Is there anything else in the box?
OE: Is there a card in the box?
OE: A letter?
Me: Um, no.
Me: There’snothing else in the box.
OE: Ok, fine. Can I get you anything else?
Me: Yes, can I get two books of Christmas stamps?
OE: Which ones?
Me: Not the religious ones, the other ones.
OE: The Elves or the Otters?
Me: One of each, please.
OE: You know they’re brown?
OE: The Elves.
Me: (Looking at the stamps.) They’re Elves.
OE: Yeah, but they’re brown.
Me: Elves aren’t real.
OE: I know; I’m just saying they’re brown.
Me: So are the Otters.
I got my tracking receipt, turned around to leave, looked into the dead stares of a long line of people, and went my merry way. What in the what?
Enjoy the Ride!
I had quite the encounter this week at work. It was love at first site. No, my husband shouldn’t be concerned, well maybe a little.
The door opened mysteriously. I didn’t see anyone at first, but then a tiny hand appeared on the window. I had to get up and look down to realize the cutest little boy trying to get my attention.
When I opened the window, I was greeted by, “Hi, my name is Merrick, my birthday is January 13th, and I’m 5 years old. He really did have me at hello.
He presented himself with purpose and eyelashes for miles, quickly capturing my attention.
Considering his excess energy, we had the pleasure of keeping him busy while his mother was taking care of business. A dream come true for me.
It turned out that little Merrick is an aspiring entertainer, stand-up comedian to be exact, and he hit the jackpot because I am the perfect audience.
The show started after we drew a dinosaur and colored it with what I thought was a green crayon. However, I was corrected and informed that it was, in fact, asparagus, followed by an introduction to the spinach and celery crayons in the box. Alrighty then …
Showtime for me began when he signed our artwork with “Poop” in all capital letters. I asked, “Is Poop your artistic alter ego?” I don’t think he heard anything other than “poop.” Unless the big laugh that followed was a yes.
Boys and the joy they get from saying, writing, and hearing the word poop remains a mystery.
Once he started his set of knock, knock jokes, there was no stopping him. At one point, I thought I was watching a blooper reel. He could not keep it together to deliver the punchline, but in reality, that was the best part of the show. Robin Williams reincarnated.
I’ll leave you with one he closed the show with before his mother came to collect him.
What are you, an owl? Falling off the chair, grasping for air from laughing.
Merrick was much more than an aspiring comedian; he was a reminder that life is too short not to stop and appreciate the joyful innocence of a knock, knock joke,
Enjoy the Ride!
Just sitting here pondering about life. Concluding that, if nothing else, it’s engaging as we navigate through our individual and collective journeys. I say collective because we’re in this together. Who’s crossing your path today, and why?
Have you ever viewed life as a movie with yourself as both the writer and star? I have.
Of course, there will be significant co-stars. At the same time, God, the universe, creator, or whatever term you refer to as a higher power is trying to direct scenes that include, I don’t know, millions of extras and a storyline that changes daily. Spielberg gave it a hard no.
It all started when I began recognizing a pattern of who I was attracting onto my set. Yes, we’re sticking to the movie theme here. My awareness heightened when someone or something got under my skin. Ugh, what is it? Why are you so f@#$ing annoying?
The answer is simple and complicated. Oh, you thought it would be easy too?
Remember the millions of extras and those co-stars? Well, they play crucial roles in our stories, some more than others, but they’re all critical in their own way. It’s no accident they auditioned.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the disgruntled cashier, a family member, a boss, or someone in between. If they show up, I ask myself whether they’ve been cast as my mirror, a messenger, or a teacher. A memo from the director would be nice; just saying.
The other plot twist to remember is that everyone you encounter is also starring in their own movie. What could possibly go wrong? Without ever being in Hollywood, I think it’s safe to say things can go wry when too many stars are on the stage. Why? Well …
We’re all walking around the studio lot we call this world with unhealed wounds while our particular audiences sling salt at them daily, provoking us to choose between reacting or learning. It’s not a Hallmark movie out there, folks.
So far, I’ve realized that our movies do not include stunt people, which is sometimes unfortunate but necessary if we want that blockbuster; we have to feel the bumps along the way. They don’t call it growing pains for anything.
Another important lesson learned is improvising or using our free will during production makes it very difficult for the director to navigate the script. Ego is always trying to steal the show.
So, until we allow the spotlight to shine on us with certainty, the problematic scenes in our movie will play on a loop until we decide to heal or learn. It’s all about the light.
This perspective has allowed me to view my movie more transparently and ask the director for guidance; this has led me on a path to winning the Best Picture award.
Enjoy the Ride!