Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let The Holidays Begin......


there'll be no more sorrow,

No grief and pain,

And I'll be happy, Christmas, once again....."

("Please Come Home For Christmas", The Eagles)

* * *

The seasons have changed. It's cold and rainy--and so it is now officially Fall In Texas. And I love it. And the holidays are coming....
* * *
It started raining last night, and it got so cold that I had to turn the heater on. When I heard the rain, I was glad. I dearly love rain. And I snuggled back under the warm covers and slept even better. When I woke up this morning it was still raining--and it rained all day. * * *
I am one of the few people I know who loves bad weather. I should have been born in London or Seattle--one of those places where I heard that it rains a lot. In fact, I bet that if I had been born in a "rainy place", my whole personality would have been different --"ethereal" maybe--like that woman in the butter commercial who runs glamorously down a rainy beach in a flowing white lace gown, calling breathlessly for a gorgeous British (or Greek?) guy named "Stefan"....
* * *
Because rain makes me melancholy---but in a good way. When it rains I become more thoughtful, romantic, and sensitive--kind of moony and dreamy. In fact, on a really rainy day I like to sit at a window holding a big mug of good, rich coffee heavily sweetened with cream and sugar, watching it rain for hours on end--- and while away the hours daydreaming about all sorts of neat things. And reflecting on this and that....
* * *
It's kind of a tradition with me--that on the first "bad weather day" of the fall season I will get all excited and silly about the upcoming holidays. And I start blabbing my holiday sappiness to anybody and everybody--sappiness that is so sappy that it would make you sick. And I start this obsessive sappiness bright and early, before Halloween, even.
* * *
I will savor and enjoy all the trappings and traditions that go with the holiday season--even the little, simple things. In fact, yesterday at Walmart I chuckled merrily to myself as I bought a pound of "Pumpkin Spice" coffee beans--which I then promptly started grinding for my morning coffee this morning. I always take a huge "car cup" of coffee with me to work in the mornings--which is why I usually arrive at the office with coffee spilled down the front of my uniform. (Road Nurses are known for their habit of haphazardly spilling food and drink on them while driving.)
* * *
I took a big mug of the Pumpkin Spice coffee with me today, which was a very fun day because my co-workers and I all went over to a nearby senior apartment complex to host a "Bingo & Hot Chocolate" party. We had a complete BLAST, serving the retired folks hot chocolate and donuts while taking everybody's blood pressures before the big Halloween Bingo Game. Even one of the town cops came in, stomping the rain drops off of his uniform as he quickly cozied up to the counter holding the donuts.

* * *

"So is it really true that you Po-Leece eat a lot of donuts?" I snickered, with a wink.
* * *
"Naw," he replied. "Not donuts---but we do eat a lot of those hot link sausages up at the Cafe..."
* * *
"Hey," I continued. "Let me take your blood pressure. I want to see how this 'stressful' cop job affects you!"
* * *
"I'll tell you what is stressful to the Po-Leece," he said seriously, biting into a glazed donut. "You see, it ain't really the big crime stuff that tears up our gizzards so much as the aggravating little bitty stuff."
* * *
"What little stuff?" I asked, wondering what in the Sam Hill could be so stressful, whether "little" or big", in our puny podunk area. And then he continued.
* * *
"Big stuff like house burglars or bank robbers don't make my blood pressure go up," he stated. "It's that little crap that drives me plumb nerts-- like when people get into hen squabbles over property line disputes, or when one rancher bitches about another rancher's cattle getting onto the edge of his acreage. They'll argue about a twelve-foot piece of land till Jesus comes back! At least you can SHOOT bank robbers!"
* * *
After that sage pronouncement (in which he pronounced the word "argue" as "argee") he ambled off with his donut to tease old lady Crandle, whose son is the principal of the local high school. I knew he was going to pull her leg about having "put her boy in jail a few times"--and I was left wondering where in the hell he'd ever gotten a shot at a bank robber-- because there's never been a bank robbery in the entire history of the Podunk Area. In fact, there's usually never more than one or two cops on duty at a time around here, and they're usually sitting in the Dairy Queen having a milkshake. There's never been a need for cop-action like in "Miami Vice" or "CSI" that I know of.....although I do wonder what you'd call them if they did have such a thing....and somehow "Podunk Vice" or "Podunk: CSI" just don't seem to have the same ring....
* * *
(Well, actually, I meant that we've never had a bank robbery as long as you don't want to count that time the bank manager's wife "temporarily" borrowed $34 from one of the bank teller's drawers one Thursday because she didn't have time to make "scratch" cupcakes for her WMU meeting that evening-- and so she needed to stop by the bakery to buy some"good cupcakes" but she was short on cash...)
* * *
(But she paid it back in a hurry after her embarassed husband bawled her out by yelling: "Why couldn't you make some quick box-cupcakes instead of stealing from your own husband's bank to pay $34 for bakery cupcakes? Just THINK how that looks to people! Especially with you being a church woman and me being the Bank Manager!" and she had hollered right back at him: "I don't give a Rat's Ass what it looks like-- but I know I'm not going to have every woman at the WMU talking behind my back this Sunday about how I made stupid box-cupcakes, that's for DADBURN and DANG SURE!")
* * *
Anyway, after we Road Nurses took everybody's blood pressure and fed everybody donuts and hot chocolate, my boss Lu-Lu started the big Halloween Bingo Game. Some of the more seasoned bingo players had really spent a lot of time picking out "just the right bingo card" and they were all waiting patiently to start the game. So Lu-Lu started calling out numbers. She called number after number, with the tension building to see who was going to "Bingo" first, especially because the game's prizes were pretty neat prizes, things like $5 Walmart gift cards, neat picture frames, brightly colored fluffy fleece blanket "throws", mug & chili-bowl sets, and the ever-popular Southern Woman Romance books with titles like "Bayou Fever" and "Miss Maybelle Meets a Southern Planter" .....
* * *
And then....
* * *
all of a sudden...
* * * EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room screamed BINGO at the same time!!
* * *
"What in the hell?" my boss, Lulu cried, having been practically blown off her chair by the huge shout.
* * *
"I bingo'd!" fourteen bingo contestants yelled-- in unisom.
* * *
We all looked at each other, mystified, our mouths gaping open in wonder at the ludicrous fact that everybody had bingo'd at once--and then Lu-Lu realized.....
* * *
It seems that our new secretary, who's not exactly the "brightest bulb in the box", had been instructed to make "enough" of our home-made bingo cards for everybody---and she had dutifully Xeroxed the same Bingo Card over and over again in order "to have enough" cards....
* * *
When we realized what had happened, we Road Nurses busted out laughing--and we laughed so hard and long that we ended up snorting hot chocolate out our noses. The other people thought we'd gone nuts-- until we explained. And then THEY started laughing-and then we all laughed together so hard that we thought we'd never stop. And then even after we'd all calmed down, we'd all break up in laughter again every few minutes or so all over again, just at the remembered thought of that whole room bingo-ing at once!
* * *
Yes, this was a good one. Definitely a holiday memory for me to cherish....along with all my other holiday thoughts and memories--the ones I reflect on during rainy days.....

* * *

Sigh....I love the holiday season so much that I even love the tacky stuff---commercialism and all. In fact, from the time I spy the very first popcorn ball wrapped in messy Saran Wrap, I'm off to the holiday races.... * * *

I don't know if anybody else is as sappy as I am about rainy days and the holiday season but here goes---here's the things a Road Nurse daydreams and reflects about on the first drizzly rainy day of the fall....

* * *

---how I had better hurry up and find all my winter jackets and coats--and how I think I look much better in winter clothing than in revealing summer clothing;

---holiday Halloween candy corn, how I like to bite the individual "colors" off the candy corn, hot buttered popcorn on a winter's night, egg nog with nutmeg in it, warm brownies while you're watching holiday movies in your socks;

---getting a secret thrill from how food items are packaged with "holiday themes", like holly and wreaths along the edge of your soft drink cups (and even the new Kellogg's Halloween cereal-- I think it's Apple Jacks or something-- where there's a big scary Halloween EYEBALL smack on the front of the cereal box to give you the creeps!....);

---running on a rainy beach wearing a flowing white gown, calling for a man named "Stefan" (you know, like in the butter commercial) (Because who says that holiday daydreaming has to only be about "holiday-ish" stuff?).... ---how Santa Clause is coming soon....and how he'll arrive on top of a big red firetruck in the town's Christmas Parade, like he does every year..... ---watching "zany" holiday movies for the umpteenth time and laughing all over again at the funniest scenes-- like in "Gremlins" where Zack finds out that the gremlins have strung his poor dog up in Christmas lights on the front porch, or in "Home Alone" where the crook slips and falls on his butt on the ice, or in "Santa Clause: The Movie" where Dudley Moore is an Elf and makes elf jokes every five minutes;

---watching "heartwarming" holiday movies for the umpteenth time and feeling glad when everybody lives happily ever after-- like in "It's a Wonderful Life" when Jimmy Stewart says: "Hello, you old Banking & Loan, you!", and in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when the piddly little Christmas tree turns big and fabulous after Linus recites the Bible Christmas verses, and in "The Nutcracker" Ballet when the little girl wakes up and realizes it was "all just a dream"....;

---how Thanksgiving is coming soon--and we'll have a big fat turkey with my mother's cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, fried okra, yams with marshmallow sauce dripping all over them, homemade rolls with butter, and pecan pie for dessert; ---how every year one of the local Cowboy Churches puts up a big billboard sign on the Interstate that says: "Ain't God Good?";
---how fun it is to gossip with your fellow Road Nurses about "what would be fun to cook on a rainy day like today".... like a big ole pot of chili made with good stew beef with a handfull of chopped bacon thrown into it, or a slow-cooker in the oven with a big roast beef cooking in it with potatoes and carrots (and making gravy out of the drippings later), or a huge crock-pot with pinto beans bubbling in it, or a casserole of Texan "Chicken Spaghetti" cooking in the oven with foil on top; ---how I need to go on a diet....right after the holidays are over;
---continuing to daydream about running on that beach with that guy Stefan;
* * *
---how on rainy days a nearby herd of paint ponies seems to shimmer as the ponies run in the rain with hundreds of droplets of rain on their beautiful "painted" coats; ---how it's fun on rainy days to take a coffee break to go over to "Big Randy's Lunch Cafe" to buy some hot, thick, vanilla-flavored Cappucino coffee, and then putting lots of sugar in it till it tastes like mocha candy, and not minding that it gives me a Cappucino mustache;
---how the wet roads look so beautiful when they're wet and the headlights make them shine;
---how I had better drive slowly because the roads are wet and it wouldn't be any fun at all to slide off the Interstate into the ditch and then have to get towed out of that ditch by the same mechanic who advised me to get new tires on my Jeep last May so that I "wouldn't skid in wet weather", but I didn't do it and told him sassily that my old, bald tires were "just fine" (simply because I was too cheap to buy those new tires at that time);
* * *
---how I frightened myself half to death by skidding on the wet road at the gas station and then told myself shakily that it was only because "maybe there was some oil on the pavement", and how I promised myself that I'd go get the dang new tires that the mechanic told me to get in the first damn place;

* * *

---how fun it is to watch scary movies on Halloween, like the one called "Halloween" where the killer is stalking all the teenagers, and then he GETS that one girl in the laundry room, and it makes me glad that my own laundry room is actually my brightly lit safe kitchen-- and how I'd never be so dumb as to go into a dark laundry room when the scary music is playing and YOU JUST KNOW THAT THE KILLER IS GOING TO GET HER!!!

---how Christmas is coming and we'll have ANOTHER big fat turkey and some MORE of my mother's cornbread dressing;

---how fun it is to linger at the gas station while it rains, talking with the other customers about "what a rainy day it is and how it's good that it's raining so that the ponds that all went dry on the ranches will fill back up and the cows can have plenty to drink again";
---how it's nice to drive even more slowly by all the lakes in hopes of catching a glimpse of the graceful cranes that stand in the shallows on the banks, or else the sweet ducks that swim around on the water's surface, quacking to each other in duck language;

---how fun it is every year to gripe with the other Road Nurses about how "the stores all have Christmas Stuff out and it's not even Halloween yet", even though we are all secretly thrilled that the stores all have Christmas Stuff out and we're looking foward to the holiday season;

* * *

---remembering Halloweens past and what costumes I wore-- and how I remember the very first Halloween costume I ever wore was in the 2nd Grade, a Casper-the-Ghost costume, and how I wore it proudly in the Grade School Halloween Parade and thought it was the greatest Halloween Costume in the Whole Wide World;

---remembering the disaster of last year's town Christmas Parade, where I rode the company float and didn't realize that I had accidentally worn purple panties under light pink pants--and how I realized too, too late that the entire town could see through those pink pants;

---remembering Halloweens past in the university I attended and how my stupid roommate, Brooke, went to a Halloween Costume Party with her stupid boyfriend, Andrew, and their costumes were "The Sperm" and "The Egg" and I thought those were the dumbest Halloween Costumes I'd ever seen in my life;

---remembering a Halloween once when I was married in the suburbs and had diligently taught my stupid cat Tigerlilly NOT to sit on the dining room cushions because I hate when cats sit on surfaces near where people eat-- and how one day when I got home from work early I caught that dadburnTigerlilly sitting big-as-you-please on a dining room cushion-- and how I quickly snatched up a Three Musketeers Candy Bar out of the Halloween Candy Bowl and hurled it across the room, bopping Tigerlilly SMACK on the head in the greatest cat-head-smacking bullseye I've ever gotten in all my cat-raising history-- and stupid Tigerlilly didn't try to sit on any dining room cushions for a month;

---how nice it is to sit outside my office in the Jeep while it rains, watching the rain drench the windshield while the wipers swish back and forth beating time to the rain's rhythm--

---how nice it is to sit in the Jeep while it rains, while continuing to daydream about that guy Stefan, only this time he looks like Sonny of the old "Miami Vice" TV show of the 80's;

---how nice it is to sit in the Jeep while it rains, daydreaming about how nice it would be to stay at home and make a lemon meringue pie from scratch by rolling out a Crisco pie crust-- and then making the lemon filling with freshly-squeezed lemon juice and creamery butter;

--- daydreaming about how nice it would be to stay home and sit in the rocking chair while knitting on one of my gadzillion unfinished objects, like maybe one of my psychedelic "funky baby sweaters" I like to knit out of good quality cotton yarn, like this one that I mostly made up out of my head, but I did get the heart graphs from a Nicky Epstein knitting book: or this other funky one:

---daydreaming about how fun it is to be a Road Nurse during the Holiday Season because all the medical supply vendors give us free gifts for Christmas, like scented candles, Christmas candy, cheesecakes from the bakery, new stethoscopes, pens that light up, Post-Its, Christmas coffee mugs decorated with candy canes, and all kinds of other neat stuff;

---remembering Christmases past when my ex-husband, the Biker, used to annoy the hell out of me by pushing the buttons on every single one of the mechanical Dancing Santa Clauses in Walgreens stores, making all 46 of them dance and sing at the same time and embarassing me to death in front of the store sales clerks;

---remembering Christmases past with my ex-husband, the Biker, and realizing that I don't harbor any hard feelings about our divorce, and that I can remember our times together with good memories instead of bitter feelings--but that I'm still DAMN GLAD that we're divorced because being married to him was going to send me into the poor-house, heh heh!;

---thinking about how I paused in the rain outside a patient's house to make a wish and throw a penny at a garden statue of a little boy and girl holding an umbrella in the rain..
* * *

----wondering later if my garden statue wish will come true....

* * * ---remembering dumb things I've done in Christmases past, like the time I was still married to the Biker and thought I was so clever for putting a handful of expensive chocolate motorcycles into his hand-knit stocking as a surprise on Christmas Eve -- but when I woke up the next morning they were all melted because he had started a fire in the fireplace that morning to "surprise me", not realizing there was a bunch of chocolate in his stocking..

---thinking about how thankful I am that I don't have to work on each of the upcoming holidays, since I've usually had to work most Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, Christmases, and New Years in my nursing career;

---remembering a particular Christmas in the past when I did have to work....

I was working in the Emergency Room one Christmas Eve a few years back.... And I was so tempted to be grumpy because I was feeling rather sorry for myself because I had to work that night--especially because Christmas Eve is always particularly hectic in the ER. And that night was no exception. As the hours went by, with the endless patient after patient, events became blurred as I got more and more fatigued. I literally never stopped running for that entire 12-hour shift. And then on top of how endlessly busy it was all evening, the paramedics called me on the ER radio to tell me that they were bringing this one particular patient in, Martha, a patient who always drove us all crazy by frequently calling the paramedics for no reason at all, even though she was just fine and nothing was ever wrong with her. She would habitually come into the ER on our businest nights and cause us all a lot of extra work by pretending to have an "emergency" by describing all kinds of vague "symptoms" that would have to be tested out, one by one, but always turning out to be nothing-- wasting a good four to six hours of the ER staff's time. She'd done it about 15 times so far that year, and here she was again on a busy Christmas Eve. But.... this time when I heard the paramedics' call on the radio, something inside me struck differently. For some reason a vague, uneasy stirring in me prompted me to stop in my tracks and decide right then and there that I was going to put away my impatience and grumpiness this time. Because I reminded myself that I had promised something in my heart this Christmas Eve. For when I had found out that I had to work on Christmas Eve, I had vowed that I was going to do it with a glad heart--I had vowed that I was going to make an effort to try and show a loving Christmas Spirit towards my fellow humans on our Lord's birthday-- even if I had been unlucky enough to pull a 12-hour shift on Christmas Eve--and even if people like Martha came into the ER and wasted our time. And I decided that I would turn the tables on Martha and give HER a Christmas present-- by doing something she never expected....

And so this time I waited for her at the ambulance bay doors. I waited until her ambulance came.... and when she was rolled out of the ambulance on a stretcher, carried by paramedics who were sarcastically rolling their eyes in impatience, there I stood--

I was wearing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Antlers on my head, holding my arms outstretched in a welcoming embrace, shouting to a startled Martha: "Merry Christmas, Martha Honey! Get in here and let me take care of you!"

And Martha's eyes popped wide open in complete surprise--and she hugged me as hard as I've ever been hugged in my life. And we all went into the warmth of the ER and I tried to make her visit as comfortable as I possibly could. And she told me how lonely she'd been all year, ever since her husband had died. And how the only place where anybody ever paid attention to her was when she came into the ER. Soon enough, we all realized that Martha was actually a pretty nice person--and that she was just another one of God's children, just like the rest of us. Before she went home, I got all the doctors and nurses to come in and sing a little verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to her, and I thought her smile would never quit. She said it was the best Christmas Eve she'd ever had. And it was pretty good for me, too. And all in all, it turned out to be a pretty Merry Christmas, that busy night in the ER.

* * *

That was the last Christmas we ever saw Martha, as we heard that she had passed away soon after that.

I like to think that she's in a Place Where It's Always Christmas, now....

* * *

So, now, my holiday question to everybody is.....

......Has everybody got their Rudolph-The-Red-Nosed-Reindeer" Antlers on?

If you do, then you're ready to.....

" happy, Christmas, once again"......

* * * * * (It's gonna be GREAT, GUYS!!!!)


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! What a wonderful thing you've done, welcoming in the season(s). I've always LOVED, LOVED, LOVED fall, the crunch, the color, the temperature, the promise. You have captured the spirit so well. I taught my daughter to laugh as she ran through the rain so she'd see the delight in the experience. When visiting her at college on a rainy day recently, she grabbed my hand for a giggling wet run. You've just grabbed my hand for a wonderful (memory) run. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

how beautiful, thanks for a lovely lovely essay. Where I live, there's no Halloween, no Thanksgiving and it's midsummer Christmas day. It's not the same.

Anonymous said...

LOL... you want rainy weather like that??? A lot??? Come and live here in Luxembourg :) Although, I can't complain too much as we're only going to have our first rainy day of fall tomorrow. The weather's been exceptionally warm/dry this year.
We don't really have halloween although now shops are trying to push it to increase their sales. No Thanksgiving either. But we have our version of Santa Clause who comes on Dec. 5th and then Xmas of course (where it is Baby Jesus who brings the gifts... at least that's what little roman catholic kiddies are told).

I love reading about your adventures!!! Especially the hickese :) for a non native english speaker this is really fun and educational!!!! I just came back from a trip to Oregon and I got myself a book on Redneck-ese and of course a Redneck calendar. This will be real fun as I work with brits who think I'm too american for my own good and now I can really annoy them even more LOL.

Cheers Eva

auntbear said... are some funny writer gal. Enjoyed myself immensely here tonight. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've returned to this post at least a dozen times to look at the kids sweaters. They're so cute I could cry. Do you have even general directions you'd consider selling/giving away? Well, what about the pie? At this point, I'd take anything. Pie, sweater...Your latest was delicious....

Anonymous said...

I loved your post! I agree with getting a jump on the holiday spirit, why not eh?! Hope you had a good Halloween.

Bo... said...

Alas, Alabamama! Thank you so very much--but I don't have the pattern for the baby's sweaters, aaargh! I remember that for these particular ones I used the measurements I found in somebody else's pattern---and knitted each piece till it fit the measurements--and I just made up the colorwork sections completely at random, except for that big heart pattern on the back, which I got from Nicky Epstein's very first book of trims/edges. The pie recipe is one that I "tweaked", combining two recipes from two different cookbooks--and so I promise that when I unpack those books, I will look up the recipes and write how I do it on here, because it REALLY is a GOOD lemon meringue pie recipe! Thanks for reading!--talk to ya soon in the next post.