Hallmark, Are You Listening?
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!
Through all of the recent darkness, I’ve been trying my best to look for the silver linings and believe it or not, they’re around. Currently, the most prominent one seems to be around my hairline.
Here are just a few things keeping my sanity intact these days.
Neighborhoods all around are finding ways to lift spirits, a clear sign that humanity is alive and well on the ground. It would be nice if she took a trip to DC, but that’s for another day.
My sister lives in a small town in NJ, and she is surrounded by creative minds. While on her daily “I need to get some damn air” walk, she came across a bundle of love all along the way. Is this what it’s like to live next door to Mr. Rogers? I think it’s close.
My neighborhood has been participating in a social media challenge to find rainbows displayed in windows or on doors. It’s a local scavenger hunt of sorts. I’m not sure if there is an age limit to participate, but I’m killing it over here with 32 rainbows! The other competitors aren’t old enough to cross the street, but that’s not my problem.
Since my family is sheltering in different places, PA, NJ & CA, my daughter started a Family Quarantine Facebook page to keep us connected. So far, this has been a great way to share encouraging quotes, photos of my great-niece Hope (yes, that is her name), and of course, memes. Laughter and baby photos make everything tolerable.
The silver lining for Peanut and Landon has been having their human roommates home 24/7. Peanut follows me EVERYWHERE. He is under my feet, on my lap, or up my ass ALL DAY LONG. At this point, he’ll need therapy when I go back to work. Landon refuses to follow the social distancing requirements, Peanut just wants him to stop being “that guy.”
Throughout this experience, I’ve been noticing two things every day. The number 444 and a cardinal. Coincidence? I think not. So, what’s a girl to do when she’s hit in the face with signs from the universe? Um, Google it.
Well, just as I suspected and Google confirmed, these two things are messages. I was already aware of the many meanings behind a cardinal sighting, so I welcomed my visitor with a cheery, “Good morning, Jer!” I’m assuming it’s my brother-in-law Jerry who passed away in October. If not, his name is now Jerry.
As for the 444, this is what I found.
If you see the number 444 repeatedly, it is often your angel giving you a sign that they are with you. The sign is reminding you to feel confident and supported in this knowledge.
While we’re all on pause, take time to notice the good, feed your soul, and as always … Enjoy the ride!
As most of you know I work in the medical field, on the administrative side, not the actual healing side. Trust me, this is a blessing for all of us.
Although, I must say, after 15 years I do believe I could include therapist to my resume without an ounce of guilt.
I say this because, for whatever reason, some patients walk in the door with an agenda to unload. I’m not sure if it’s the glass window, my face or loneliness, but whatever the case may be, the stories just spill into the room. Some good, others require earplugs.
Don’t get me wrong this can be a blessing or a curse depending on the schedule. There are days when I have to take things with a grain of salt, and then there are days when a gem like the one I’m about to share falls right into my lap and heart. It’s like hitting an emotional lottery.
George and Pauline are longtime patients. They are both in their 90’s, with Pauline being 8 years older. Yes, Pauline is pushing 100.
They are both brilliant, highly educated, interesting, frisky and funny as hell! The full package.
Unfortunately for everyone, Pauline can no longer come into the office, but thank goodness George comes regularly.
On Thursday, when George was making his next appointment I inquired about Pauline and he said “the honeymoon isn’t over” and I smiled. This is when he spilled to this GEM all over my desk. Hmm … I hope I scheduled his next appointment.
One month after we were married Pauline was in the kitchen when I was heading out for a morning run. I yelled from the door “Pauline, I’ll be back I’m going for a run” and she replied, “hurry back and I’ll make it worth your while” The honeymoon wasn’t over. At this point, George is sporting a huge grin.
He continues to tell me that he hadn’t thought about that moment in a very long time, but today as he was leaving to come to this appointment, Pauline was settled in with her aide when he yelled into the room “Pauline, I’m going to see the doctor, I’ll be back shortly” and without missing a beat she replied, “hurry back and I’ll make it worth your while” As I was staring at George I noticed he was still wearing that big grin, but his eyes were welling up when he leaned in and said: “Looks like the honeymoon isn’t over yet.”
Honestly, folks, it doesn’t get much better than that now does it? Enjoy the Ride!
Lovers Gonna Love
Valentine’s Day has to be the most dissed holiday on the calendar!
The complaints of overpriced dinners are endless. The push or maybe shove from Hallmark to dazzle your lover with an expensive piece of paper have people bitching up a storm; and suddenly roses are the most hideous flowers, beating out a damn dandelion! Oh, haters gonna hate.
Do you really need to hire the writers at Hallmark to express how you feel? Paper, pens and personalization are priceless.
How about takeout, Netflix and daisies? If Love is already in the air this is all you need.
It doesn’t have to be difficult, just tweak your approach. Love should be spontaneous, simple and special.
Love also comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of my Fellow Bloggers Susannah & Susie shared wonderful examples of how simple gestures of kindness can keep the love going long after the 14th of February. Lovers gonna Love!
The world certainly has enough hate going on without throwing Cupid under the bus today. So get your creative juices flowing and do something to make someone else smile today. I would be beaming if someone else cleaned the bathroom, but that’s me.
My daughter is smiling at college with her Panera gift card. My son is shocked by his extra gas money. The hubby is beaming with the site of a little chocolate cake with his morning joe and Peanut and Landon are on top of the world with their new toys. Knowing that these thoughtful gestures made the ones I love happy is all I need. (But if someone wants to clean the bathroom that would be great too)
Today isn’t just Valentine’s Day for me, it’s my Anniversary … which makes it extra special for us. Love squared! We will be heading out to enjoy an overpriced dinner this evening, but more importantly each others company. Time to ourselves is priceless these days.
All you need is Love to Enjoy the Ride …. It’s Easy!
I’ve done an unofficial study of sorts over the past few months and it’s not my first. Just when you thought you knew me.
I’ve done several studies over the years, not that they find their way to a medical journal or get me a Nobel prize nomination, but I track certain things that raise an eyebrow because I feel like it. Interesting indeed I know.
My first study started several years ago when I read that the weakest part of a person born under the sign of Pisces, like me, is their feet. Why is that Lisa? Well, because the symbol for a Pisces is two fish and as we all know fish do not have feet. If you did not know that, please move along.
Since I just happen to work for a Podiatrist I started to take note on how many patients are born under the sign of Pisces. The answer is … a lot. I won’t bore you with graphs and charts because I don’t like being bored and they don’t exist.
Another study I’ve been working on is calculating the number of people who have Diabetes and Hypertension, again the answer is … a lot. Notice I keep my data very simple.
My latest investigation of sorts pertains to my two little love bugs Peanut and Landon. It never occurred to me until we got Landon, that Peanut is either gay, highly metrosexual or something else. As if I have all the time in the world.
These two are the Felix and Oscar of the canine world. Peanut always the serious rule follower and Landon, well he is just Landon.
DATA COMPILED TO DATE:
Peanut, when the slightest bit of dirt is on his paws, he walks directly into the shower stall and demands we cleanse the filth while Landon is under the impression that dirt builds character.
Peanut will then stand on a floor towel like cement until I get the blow dryer out to properly dry his feet and Landon is already out the door running in circles at 90 mph for a more natural approach.
My little Pee Wee also has a serious sense of fashion. Call me crazy, but it is true. This little guy loves to look dapper. While he enjoys sporting an occasional bow tie with his collar, his signature look is the turned-up collar of his coat. He hides behind the chair if I choose a less fashionable piece from his wardrobe.
As for Landon, he wears a coat out of necessity since he is the size of a snowflake and would most likely become popsicle if he weren’t wearing something to keep him warm, he opts for whatever we put on him.
Where do we even begin? Peanut waits patiently then walks quietly into the room to approach his bowl while Landon repeatedly checks on the status of his order and resembles a Mexican jumping bean until I put the bowl down.
Peanut is very selective in this department. Oh, he isn’t going to sniff any ole ass no sirree, they must be the right size, shape and color. Peanut has very high standards in this department.
Meanwhile, Landon is all over the first piece of fur that crosses his path. No need for names or numbers, if there is tail … he is all about that ass.
Dear Lord …
It occurred to me during the proofreading portion of this post, that Peanut is not gay or metrosexual, he has taken on the characteristics of MY HUSBAND. I feel another study coming on …
Do you realize what that means? I am Landon! A low maintenance social butterfly, who has been known to jump for food. I’m dying right now!
Life certainly is a trip … Enjoy the Ride!
Hey everyone how we doin? I just stopped by Life With The Top Down to introduce myself. My name is Peanut and I just arrived last night. I’m a Maltese/Poodle mix a/k/a as a Maltipoo. My zodiac sign is Leo and I enjoy long walks, squeaky toys and love … lots and lots of love. Don’t let that serious face fool you … I’m just nervous.
Apparently my other owner loved me so much he decided to let me move in with Lisa and her family. See, he is a hardworking single professional who really couldn’t keep up with all of my needs. Someone had to bring home the bacon, ya know what I mean?
Well, since my arrival I’ve been having a good time. I still miss my other roommate, but this family seems pretty nice so far. Last night they took me for a long walk and met my Aunt & Uncle who live down the street. A little guy could get use to this life … just sayin. When we got home I snuggled up with Lisa on the chair to watch a lame predictable LifeTime movie until the kids came home. What we don’t do for these kids….ugh.
There is a girl here, but I don’t think she’s staying. I keep hearing that we will be “taking her back” on Sunday. As long as I’m part of that “we” I don’t care. She seems nice, but I think she’s still trying to figure me out. Look at this face….it won’t be long. Now the boy, whew he is another story. I thought I had energy, he had me running, jumping, barking and chasing the minute he met me. Oh yea, we’re going to have some fun. Last night I slept in his room, actually in his bed. I think I surprised Lisa this morning when she opened the door. She seemed happy when she saw me cuddled up next to Zac. I heard her mumbling something about “no condoms necessary” whatever that means.
That guy over there on the right, he got down on the floor with me to make me feel more comfortable. We are already buddies! We were laughing, playing and having a great time. Today he gave me a bath and fluffed my fur. Oh, yes he did. Later he let me sit out front while he did some yard work. It was a win/win decision.
I really had a full day today. Lisa took me for a few walks. She kept calling me Jillian … sorry, no slackers on my walk. I met some neighbors, took a trip to the pet store, got a new toy, took a little nap and tonight we went for a real long walk. Now I’m sitting with Lisa while she’s types this masterpiece up for me. I think it’s safe to say she is my favorite.
I’m not sure what it is, but I’m sensing this family needed me in their home. Ever since I got here they seem extra happy. Good looks and a charming personality has a lot of leverage.
Just remember, all you need is Love and a Dog to Enjoy the Ride!
Music Is Played For LOVE
Cheers to all things LOVED today!
Today there is just a little extra LOVE in the air over here at Life With The Top Down.Why you ask? Well, because it’s also my 22nd wedding anniversary. That’s right folks we were married on the same day that LOVE just happens to be bursting at the seams all over the globe.
We even had The Honorable Judge Goodheart perform our nuptials…you know, to really seal the deal.
Keep on cruisin’ while you Enjoy the Ride!
Love & Power
Below is a message that was shared by Parker J. Palmer. Mr. Palmer is well known Quaker, who I admit has influenced me in many ways. Listening to his words have made me a better person. Here is his thought for this very special day.
Take time to reflect this important message:
On Monday, January 21, Americans will celebrate our 57th Presidential Inauguration and the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here’s a quote from Dr. King about the relation of love and power that’s worth pondering on this or any other day. I kept this quote close at hand as I wrote my new book, sub-titled “The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit”
The best way to honor the gift of American democracy is to do whatever we can—in our homes, schools and workplaces, in our communities, states and nation—to help create a politics that joins love and power.
An impossible dream? Of course. But where would we be if people like Dr. King had been unwilling to dream impossible dreams, confident that others would come along to pick up where they left off?
Was their confidence well-placed? The answer to that question is in our hands…
Momma, You Were Born This Way
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to pay homage to my mother … Venita. My mother is the oldest of three children born to her Italian immigrant parents Vincenzo Torcini and Maria/Mary Landini in 1926.
Vincenzo left her life at 4 years old, shortly after the Great Depression entered. This left her mother faced with the burden of raising her young children alone, without any means to do so. After this abandonment, she suffered from what would most likely be considered a nervous breakdown today. No welfare, free housing or valium for Mary.
Years later my mother was told that the apartment they were living in had caught fire and her mother was under the impression that the children perished. That pushed her over the edge and lead her to the breakdown.
Scenarios like this were not uncommon especially amongst immigrant families during the Great Depression. Many of them could not find work to support their families, because they could not speak English. This frustration, piled on top of economic pressures led to abandonment and in some cases suicide.
This tragic set of circumstances left my mother and her siblings in the care of the Catholic Charities in Philadelphia. They were placed in an orphanage, followed by what was called a Shelter. This was emergency lodging that was set up in order accommodate all of the families that had become homeless following the Depression. Some were run privately and were set up to serve cases like that of my mother’s family. These children needed homes until their parents were able to support them again.
My mother and her brother, who were only 14 months apart, were separately placed into homes. Unfortunately, their sister and youngest of the three, died of malnutrition while waiting for placement. The children were taken to several different homes before settling into somewhat permanent residences. My uncle was raised by an Italian family in South Philadelphia, while my mother was raised by an Irish woman in North Philadelphia. To this day my mother refers to her as “the Irish woman who raised me.” She rarely refers to her by name, which was Ellen O’Malley. Ellen was a widow at a very young age, never had children of her own and never re-married. It was her single lifestyle that allowed her to open her home to these children. Giving children to single women..now that’s a switch.
Ellen O’Malley a/k/a “Auntie” cared for my mother from the time she was 7 years old until she was 16. There were other children placed during her time with “Auntie,” however they had parents that remained in their lives with weekly visitations. These children were just waiting for their parents to get work to rebuild their lives, but this was not the case for my mom. Her father never did return, and her mother remained at the hospital until her death. This left my mother to just wait, wonder and hope.
Auntie did the best she could to raise her. However, she did not express herself in a maternal manner. This is understandable since the other children had mothers in their lives and she most likely didn’t want to impose.
To this day when my mother talks to me about her own mother, I can hear the yearning of unanswered questions in her tone.
At 85 years old she is still left to wonder if her face resembles that of her mother or father. No pictures, no trinkets, no memories of her own and surprisingly…not one ounce of resentment.
What is her secret? How did my mother raise (4) children of her own without ever experiencing the love and nurturing of her own mother?
I have to conclude … Momma, you were born this way. She is a humble and loving person who gained strength from her hardship that resonates into the enormous love she has for her own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The reason I chose the title for this Blog is because my mother Venita enjoys Lady Gaga. You heard me…the same day the photo above was taken “Just Dance” came on the radio. My mom asked “Is this Lady Gaga? I saw her on The View in the cutest black and white outfit. If I were young, I would have that dress.” This was followed by “she’s a smart girl.” I was so grateful she wasn’t referring to the Meat Dress.
At 85 she is a hip hat wearing, organic eating, interesting, funny, strong Lady Gaga loving Democrat, who enjoys going to the movies, solving crossword puzzles, dropping hilarious one-liners and LOVING her family with all her heart. But most of all … she is my Mom. Enjoy the Ride!
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