Monthly Archives: November 2012

Keeping Secrets

The past week has been more stressful than usual, even more than normal for a holiday. This year my three sisters and I got together and decided to surprise our mother. Mom is 91 years young. She doesn’t go out anywhere anymore but she is still very active and very, very alert.

We moved into the house we’re in almost 30 years ago. For most of my many nieces and nephews this is the only place Great Grandma has lived, but when we were growing up we lived in a lot of houses. My dad didn’t believe in buying back then so we rented, we rented a lot of different houses.

This is the first house my Mom has ever lived in that she can do whatever she wants in it. My older sister and I are actually the owners but it is Mom’s house as long as she is able to live here. It was several years before she felt comfortable enough to even put a nail in the wall without worrying. When you rent you can’t always put nails in the wall, paint or do anything that might damage something. We own it now nails don’t make any difference.

Ever since we moved in she has said, just once she would like a Thanksgiving dinner where everyone is sitting at the same table. This year we decided to fulfill that wish.

After days of emailing, a sister’s day out to finalize the plans and pick up what we needed to pull this off we thought we were ready. I ran interference with Mom. She is so used to doing it all. Thanksgiving has always been her holiday. When we were really little and lived closer to the relatives everyone came to our house and Mom made the entire dinner. this year we divided up the food so she was feeling a bit unneeded, especially when I told her she didn’t have to wash every plate in the house. We had it covered.

She was mad at me for a while she did not want to serve Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates. I kept telling her to trust us that we had it covered. She didn’t believe me.

My sisters have all agreed they owe me because I live with Mom and take care of all the things that she can’t do now days. I also am on the receiving end of her anger when things don’t go right. She’s a sweet lady but she raised seven kids alone. She’s used to being in control of every situation. Old age isn’t sitting well with her, especially as one by one things are being taken away from her because she just can’t do them any more.

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving my sisters, a niece, a nephew and his girlfriend show up with four 8 foot tables and a 6 foot table. I had measured the kitchen/dining area but had misunderstood my sister’s email. I measured for 2 8 foot tables not 4. We set up 2 of the 8 foot ones and the 6 foot one and moved them in every possible configuration trying to get space for 26 people.

After several hours we had it figured out. Everyone left planning to come back early Thursday morning to set it up, then head back home to finish cooking before we ate at noon.

We have always eaten Thanksgiving at noon because one of nieces is diabetic, has been most of her life and needed to eat at regular times as a child. It was easier to eat at noon than to cause her problems. Anyway Thursday morning they showed up as planned but that was the only thing that went as planned. The tables didn’t work they way we had thought they would. Time was moving but we couldn’t get the tables figured out.

We had already moved the regular dining table out, the dog kennel was moved out of its corner, two side stands and a center island were moved. The table still didn’t fit so we had enough room for everyone to sit at one table.

We were getting down to the wire when we finally decided to just set the two long tables side by side with room down the center for people. The shorter table ran length wise across the room. We weren’t all sitting at the same table but we were within touching space so that was as good as it was going to get. We set the tables with china, goblets, napkin rings, wine charms and name place markers. Even the little great grand kids had small goblets to drink from. It was fancy. We’re not normally fancy, we’re so used to doing buffets that the idea of sitting down at a table was unique.

We actually made it by 11:30 when everyone started to show up. Everyone sat down and we passed the food around and it actually worked. Mom almost broke down and cried when she gave the grace, which amounted to Thanking God for her crazy kids!

It might not have worked out like we originally planned it but it did work out. In fact it was so much fun having everyone in the same room talking to each other that some of them mentioned doing it for Christmas!! Definitely will be doing it again next Thanksgiving.

Thankfully next year we won’t have to keep it a secret. I hate keeping secrets. Especially from Mom when she kept asking me about things I couldn’t answer.

But we did pull it off, she was surprised and it turned out good. Nothing to worry about, my sleepless, stressful week was all for nothing.

But how are we going to top this one? Have you ever planned something big and have it not work out or at the last minute had to change all your plans only to have it work out better than you thought.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Hope your all your plans work out as well as ours did.

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How do you choose what books to read?

How do you choose what you want to read? Do your choices change from day to day? Mine do. I just downloaded a half-dozen books on my kindle. Everything from a new authors first book to Pickwick Papers by Dickens. I have a very eclectic taste in what I read.  Yet, no matter how many modern books I read, intend to read, plan on reading, I always go back to the classics. I am not an expert on the classics. I really haven’t read most of them. I just love the ones I have read and often reread them over and over. I very seldom read a book because it is on the best seller list or ones that are highly advertised all over. I usually go for the books that no one has heard of yet.

Like many readers, as a young child I only read one type of books. If the main character wasn’t an animal I wouldn’t read it. Then in about 6th or 7th grade I had an English teacher that I hated. He was always making mean sarcastic comments, I was that really shy quiet scared kid trying to hide under the desk. Anyway he made us keep a “file” of all the books we read. We were required to read so many for his class. Unlike now days there were no points or whatever, we just had to write down the title and author. Midway through the class he started taking us in small groups to the library and made us take out books that we would never have looked at normally. I learned to love all types of books. He picked out an Agatha Christie, Louis L’Amour, Dickens and Asimov. That year I read mysteries, westerns, nonfiction, science fiction, fiction of all kinds for the very first time.

It was eye-opening. Many of them I didn’t like at the time, I reread some of them years later and loved them. Now I read anything and everything. I think the classics should be, at the very least, read with a mind to when they were written. They are the best view we have of where we came from, the lessons learned through time, the changing times and dangers our world has gone through. They may be bias, prejudiced and a bit simplistic to our way of life and thinking but that is where we all came from. Those are our ancestors.

Over the years I have had other English teachers that pushed me further in my reading, Siddhartha, was one of the pushes that still confuses me. I’ve read it several times and even had to do a verbal test on it. The teacher said I understood it perfectly, which totally confused me because I had no clue what I had read.  He then made me read Steppenwolf, again I passed the test but have no idea to this day what that book was really about.

It was about this time in my life that I started reading “War and Peace”. Now over 40 years later I’m still trying to finish that one. I keep going back to it but for some reason I can’t finish it. It’s great, I enjoy it but for some reason I always get side tracked by other books.

Even though many of those books confused me but they made me think. They made me stretch my reading until I became the reader I am now. I love books. I love reading. I read everything from classics to paranormal, science fiction to nonfiction, fantasy to reality, the only thing I don’t do is read paranormal or other spooky type books in October. Any other time of the year is fine but I hate Halloween, it scares me so I read fun books or favorite children books in the month of October.  Or if I’m having a particularly bad October I reread Dickens “Tale of Two Cities” or “Great Expectations” although that book scared me the first time I had to read it. It was in middle school and reading about Miss Havisham burning in her ancient wedding dress scared me to death. It was a long time before I read that one again. Now it’s one of my favorites.

Now I read scary books at Christmas time, Christmas books during the summer, and everything else in between. So how do you choose what to read and when to read it? Who or what influenced your reading habits?

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