Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review of 2009

On New Year's Eve, I enjoy making a small list of the positives and negatives of the outgoing year. It makes for a nice reflection on the year which is about to leave us, and gives one something to ponder when anticipating the new year. I often remind myself that even though the negative events of the year may have brought some amount of pain, emotional and or physical, they give the opportunity for personal growth.

Negatives of 2009
  • Aunt Karen dies at the age of 53 from Multiple Symptom Atrophy
  • Flat tire on Niagara Falls Blvd.
  • Multiple Car repairs (general maintenance, but still costly)
  • One of my Fall courses was anything but enjoyable.
  • The death of an old friend of the family.
  • The summer course from HELL.
  • I couldn't even get ONE interview for a teaching position.
  • Anne breaking her pelvis and having to stay in the nursing home.
  • Another holiday season at Walmart (shudder)
  • The death of Mrs. Piskor
  • Dad struggling with his insurance to get his full comp money from disability (which is still going on)
  • My weight gain.
Positives of 2009
  • The birth of my nephew Collin
  • Getting a job as a substitute teacher in two districts to add to my teaching experience for my resume.
  • My Dad getting a good report from the heart doctor.
  • Getting to share another year with my best friend Anne.
  • Surviving another Walmart holiday thanks to some great friends/co-workers
  • The numerous happy hour visits to Q with Bob.
  • With the exception of some nagging colds (which is standard for me), I have been in good health, and have avoided the swine flu... even though there have been cases in the schools I was teaching in. Deo Gratias!
I am thankful for the graces I have received in this past year, and even during the rough times, I am thankful for the family and friends who helped get me through them. I look forward to 2010 and all the possibilities it holds!

Return to Normalcy

I used to always promise I would keep the Christmas decorations up until the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) which is January 6th. This marks the official end of the Christmas season according to the Church's Liturgical calendar. I have never once made it to January 6th.. in fact... I don't think I have ever left the decorations up past New Year's Day.

This year was no exception. I took down the tree and packed away the decorations tonight (or late late last night depending on the time stamp of this entry). As much as I look forward to decking the halls, I equally dread the looming tasking of un-decking them. Un-decking the halls holds none of the excitement of it's counter-part, and thus makes it much more work-like. Knowing I have this daunting task to perform, I'm eager to get the job over and done with as soon as the time presents itself.

There is a certain sense of refreshment that comes along with packing up the holiday decor. I like to steal Warren G. Harding's campaign slogan for this time of year, which I refer to as our "return to normalcy". Harding used the term to refer to a returned focus on American isolation from European affairs immediately following WWI... I use it in reference to our recovery from the Holiday hurricane which sweeps through our homes and lives. No more baking, shopping or dealing with nasty people in the stores. It's a time when we can kick back and enjoy the calm of the ordinary. I always find it quite a refreshing change of pace.

As I put the joy, excitement and headaches of this holiday season behind me... I enjoy the calm and comfort of the everyday.... the return to normalcy. New knick-knacks gifted to me on Christmas are slowly finding their ways to the shelves and tables while old things get packed away or discarded. New clothes get put in the dresser and closet as old ones get donated or thrown out. It's an interesting transition really... perfect for New Year's.... examining the old, incorporating the new, and adjusting to what change there is while clinging to the reassurance of the familiar.

One of the many nice things about living in Western New York is the change in seasons. By the time you are sick of one season, the next is on its way. The same can be said for holidays. Just when you've had enough of one holiday season, there is a little down time before you get all excited for the next to arrive. It mixes things up a bit... keeps life from getting stale.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Too casual??

One of the things I love about the time immediately following Christmas is trying out all the new clothes I got from "Santa", or perhaps the ones I may have purchased with gift cards or from the many sales that occur this time of year. I was gifted with a beautiful new peacoat (I love a good double breasted coat!), as well as several button down shirts, and even a few vests for work. I just love getting "dressed up", and will use any excuse to do so... in fact, when I was a kid, I used to say I wanted a job where I could wear a shirt and tie everyday... and teaching gives me that opportunity... though sadly, many in my profession (mostly the lucky full time bunch) have opted for a much more casual attire.

As I look around during holidays at what people are wearing, I have to ask myself the question, when did we become so casual? It wasn't long ago that women would not dream of going outside without a pair of gloves on, or a man without a button down shirt and hat (note I said hat.. not cap.. there is a difference). It seems that almost over night, we as a society have moved from one extreme to the other. As my Grandmother used to tell me, "I wouldn't have even walked to the mailbox without a girdle on", and now people go to the store in their pajamas. It's quite sad really. We seem to have lost the appreciation for presentation, and confused sloppiness with comfort.

When I was a wee lad in the late 80's, men still would don a tie at least for special occasions such as attending Church, weddings, Christmas and Easter. Even those rare occasions for "dressing up" have declined in importance. Blue jeans are the standard uniform for any and all occasions, and ties are seen as mostly obsolete and oppressive. Dresses on women? Archaic.

There are a few of us who don't mind bucking the system, and still ponder "what to wear?" when going out. The professional and formal are still part of our attire, as is the relaxed and informal. I am always delighted to see someone in my age group (late 20's) who has the guts to wear a suit, and even a hat (the guy in the photo is from a chat group I belong to... and though I don't know him personally, felt this photo proved I am not alone in the world). I once heard a similarly minded priest (in his early 30s) refer to such people as "young fogeys". That title still makes me laugh.

Perhaps to many I sound arrogant or worldly, but I would have to ask the question, "What's wrong with making everyday a bit of a special occasion?". Have we "progressed" so far that pajamas and hoodies are the hallmarks of American street wear? I don't know.. I'm certainlly not Queer Eye or Joan Rivers... just a young fogey. I doubt it has little to do with the cost of clothing... whether you're on a budget or not is irrelevant. -- When was the last time you looked at the price tag of decent hoodie?

Regardless of where you are in the casual versus formal debate, there is something to be said for the craftsmanship and quality of the styles of yester year and the disposable nature of today's garments.

Maybe I have simply watched the Harry Potter movies one too many times, and become obsessed with the neat robes that the adult characters and teachers wear, that when I head off to work, I'm snapped back to reality that a tie can make me seem grossly out of place. Oh well, if I ever get a job teaching at Hogwarts, I'll know what to wear!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

As I write this post on Christmas Eve, I am thinking of all the loose ends that need to be finished before tonight's festivities.... preparing food for tomorrow, wrapping last minute packages.... There is a lot of excitement about the approaching Christmas celebration, but I'm trying to keep in my heart the real meaning of this feast day.

I am all for beautiful Christmas trees, and a modest gift exchange. It's fun and exciting... it is a celebration after all.... but it's not the trees and the gifts and the dinners which we celebrate. We celebrate the fest of the Incarnation... the word which was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Working in retail during this season makes one too aware of how hectic and chaotic Christmas has become... how worldly, selfish and secular. Think for a moment how you would feel if it was your Birthday and all the people you loved were busy buying presents, decorating and making fancy meals..... then forgot to include you in the celebration. You'd probably be heart broken. Imagine how much more Our Lord feels when we have turned His Birthday into just another reason to shop and get frustrated.

Enjoy your celebrations with your family and friends, but don't forget to include the very special guest of honor this year. Don't just visit Him at Church to "get it over with" then go on with the holiday as if He didn't matter. Keep Him in your hearts, and have a very Merry CHRISTmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fiesta continued...

So I was browsing online and noticed that the discontinued color of Fiestaware that I had my heart set on was selling for WAY too much money to ever realistically get a complete set. One or two dinner plates sells for over $20. I stopped by the Bon-Ton today and fell in love with the Shamrock color.... and guess what... they were 50% off!!!!

So.. as a surprise, my Mom offered to buy me the set for my Birthday and Christmas of NEXT year... hahahaha. So, I went back to the Bon-Ton, and picked up a basic 5 piece serving set for 12 people. Ooooo yea! Opening a Bon-Ton charge saved me.. well, Mom.. an extra 10%.

So, from now on, Mom will be drawing little green dishes inside blank cards for the next few holidays as a reminder of what she bought me. :) But... when that magical day happens... I'll have dishes ready to serve meals to my guests... oh... and to myself too!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with all things vintage. I had been debating starting to stock pile dishes for the magical day I get a full time teaching position and am able to finally move out on my own. I always dreamed of having a green and white kitchen... mint green... jadite... shades like that. I do have a few pieces of Fire King jadite tea cups and saucers but have recently fallen in love with the Fiestaware Chartreuse color (who came up with that name???) which is pretty close to the lighter shades of green that I love so much.

Of course, the color I love was retired back in the 50s, and was remade for only two years in the late 90s which makes finding pieces hard, and the pieces one can find... pricey. I found a teapot online and am seriously holding back from buying it..... with the expenses of the holidays, I can't justify the purchase.

Eventually I think I will start buying a few pieces here and there... starting with the teapot which I can actually use... then when and if I ever can move out on my own.. I will have some dishware to use when company comes to visit. :)