VALENTINE’S DAY: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE CARD

By:  Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Each year, due to family birthdays, my husband and I are usually on a road trip on Valentine’s Day.  This means we have been able to be with family on this “day of love”, which is a good thing.  Each year we both purchase Valentine’s Day cards that we think best express how we feel about one another.  There’s only one problem: my husband leaves the card at home in his dresser drawer.  Every. Year.

The first few years this happened I would hand him my card with great anticipation, waiting for him to read the sentiment and then what I had written to him about our relationship.  Then he would look at me and say sheepishly, “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.  I left the card at home again.”  Each time I heard those words I was crestfallen.  And the scene repeated itself so often it became like Groundhog Day.

I would think: how can a man who remembers to bring his favorite cookies and his golf magazine on every road trip forget a card that is lying out on his dresser?  I admit, I was pretty pissy about it the first few years.  But then circumstances (and quite possibly some maturity) made me realize that it’s not about the card.

My husband tells me he loves me every day.  Not just on Valentine’s Day or our anniversary.  He tells me that every time I go out the door and when we go to bed at night.  He does little things like get my paper for me every morning and sets up my coffee so it’s ready to brew when I get up(okay, this has gotten easier since we bought a Keurig, but still…).  All in all, he’s a great guy who treats me very well.  I finally realized that these little daily acts are far more important than a $4 Hallmark card.

So, ladies, if you’re a bit disappointed in your spouse or significant other today because you didn’t receive a card or – and this is the worst – your husband sent flowers to your home instead of your office, please take a lesson from me and look at the bigger picture.

And if that bigger picture isn’t so good either, dump his sorry butt!

Aloha

This week I’m in Hawaii and have just turned off the news,

And focused on relaxing, taking in some sunset views.

So my world consists of trade winds and walking on the sand

And sitting by a palm tree with a Mai Tai in my hand.

This week I do not wonder, ‘Is the market bull or bear?’

My big concern is where to place my reclining poolside chair.

This week I will not wonder, ‘Should I buy or should I sell?’

But just relax in places that I’ve come to know so well.

This week there’ll be no sniping or my sarcasm to share;

Just the squawking from the birds that fill the morning air.

There is nothing to be learned, as I will not try to teach,

As I sit and watch the waves as they crash upon the beach.

I know this week is ending and my life will rearrange,

And my lazy, ‘island attitude’ will surely have to change.

I know that soon my office will be getting lots of use,

But please forgive this one last day where I can just ‘hang loose’.

Turn Bad Resolutions Into Better Resolutions

By Bob Sparrow

Some of you have already put your New Year’s resolutions on paper; hopefully they’re in pencil.  Most of us have had some vague ideas rattling around in our heads about how we’d resolve, no, how we’d ‘wish’ this new year would be different from anything we’ve ever experienced in the past.  The fact is, while there is typically a lot of ‘resolutioning’ going on at this time of year, there is very little that is actually resolved.  I’m not trying to be a downer here; I’m just trying to keep you from another year of disappointments – resolution after resolution succumbing to reality sometime in January, or if you’re lucky, February.  I therefore offer you a guide for keeping your resolutions . . . real.

Bad Resolution: I’m going to lose weight  The average American adult gains about 2 pounds per year; the average gain in weight over the holidays is about 5 pounds.  Even if you got one of those oxymoronic diseases where you painfully, but thankfully lost 10 pounds while feeling miserable, you’ll go right back to your poor diet and lack of exercise as soon as you’re healthy enough to sit up and eat a bag of chips.

Better Resolution: Fat people are jolly, resolve to be jollier.

Bad Resolution: I’m going to join a gym  This is part of the above lie you’ve told yourself about being healthier this year.  Gyms prey on people like you in January with deals to get you in the door – they know you’ll never keep it up, you know you’ll never keep it up, but you resolve that this year is going to be different.  It’s not; save the $29 ‘special offer’ and all the money you’ll spend on ‘I’m looking good’ work out gear.

Better Resolution: Walk to the nearest gym, look at all the saps who were duped this year, walk home and enjoy a Cinnabon. 

I’m going to spend more time with the kids:  This assume that the other demands on your time are going to diminish – they’re not.  You love your kids, you want to spend more time with them, but are you going to work less, play less golf, miss your favorite TV show?  No.  Besides, you’re kids are getting older and they want to spend less time with you, but will want to see you when they need money.

Better Resolution: Spend ‘quality’ time with the kids, whatever that is and keep cash handy.

I’m going to be better at work:  A mere turning of the calendar page is not going to make you a better employee or employer.  Yes, you can agree to treat Dottie in accounting a little better, but you know she’s going to piss you off when she asks for all those expense receipts.  And the only way you’re going to become a better salesman this year is if the economy gets better.

Better Resolution: Try to keep your job.

I’m going to be a better person: This is sort of the ‘catch all’ resolution; it’s great because it’s vague enough to keep you unaccountable.  It can encompass everything from being a better spouse (this is fine until you realize that your partner hasn’t made the same resolution) to finding god (if he wanted you to find him, don’t you think he or she could make that happen?).

Better Resolution: Don’t perpetuate any of that Internet drivel that tells you you’ll have 17 years of bad luck if you don’t pass it along in the next 15 minutes to your 50 closest friends.

Hope this helps, you’ll thank me in February.  Happy Same Old Year.  The reality is we like you just the way you are.  OK, we’d like to see a few changes, but that ain’t gonna happen.

NEW YEAR’S: THE TRIUMPH OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

2011 was not a good year in our household.  This year some health issues, the death of a friend and the roller coaster stock market caught up with us.  And yet, here I sit on New Year’s Eve, convinced that 2012 is going to be a GREAT year.  I’ve polled a few of my friends and their sentiment is exactly the same – they all are looking forward to 2012 with great optimism and hope.

What is it about human nature that we completely suspend reality at the beginning of each year?  We forget that life’s road is bumpy and that each year brings some amount of problems and worries.  We forget that at our age, every doctor’s appointment holds the possibility of being a life-altering event.  And we forget that the world around us (especially in an election year) can be a very hard place to find comfort and joy.

We look at January 1 as a fresh beginning, the slate wiped clean of any problems, and only great possibilities spread out before us in the coming 12 months.  Granted, for those who face overwhelming health or personal issues this may not hold true, but most of us are in complete denial about potential pitfalls in the coming year.

Today we believe that all things are possible.  Today we believe that the new year will bring us contentment, good times and we will finally be able to discard our “fat clothes”.

So here’s to a wonderful 2012 to us all.  May your year be filled with good health and good times.  Happy New Year!!!!

Is Santa Claus Coming To Town?

If you haven’t read my sister’s post from Tuesday, you should; it captures the spirit of the season.  This post is more reflective of someone who’s been drinking the spirits of the season.  But the humor is a gift, as Suzanne mentioned, from our father, who always had a twinkle in his eye and something good to say about everyone.

By Bob Sparrow

The following questions about Christmas carols came into our mail bag this week and I thought I should share some of our answers with our readers.

Will I have a White Christmas?  No, it’s now politically incorrect to have a Christmas of white, black, brown, yellow, red or any other color attributed to human flesh.

Who wrote:

     Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Sammy Cahn wrote it as he boarded a plane in New York headed for Palm Springs.

     All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – The first goalie for the New York Rangers

Did Santa really kiss mommy under the mistletoe last night?  Apparently there’s been something going on between Mommy and Santa for some time; do you wonder why at 9 years old you are over-weight and have a white beard?

What’s the meaning of Fa La La La La La La La La in Deck the Halls?  There’s an interesting history to this song, the Halls and their neighbors, the Kragmeyers were like the Hatfields and McCoys, always fighting.  The Kragmeyers actually created a disparaging song about the Halls that was filled with profanity; they sang it every Christmas with the intent of decking the Halls in a fight.  The music was so beautiful the song endured, but the ‘Fa La La’s’ were substituted for the original lyrics that would make a sailor blush.  That should put a smile on your face the next time you sing it.

How’s Grandma?  After being run over by reindeer several years back, she’s now up and around and feeling a little better since winning the reckless driving suit against Santa that paid her $3.4 million plus attorney’s fees.  She now resides in Palm Beach, Florida.

Did all the other reindeer really laugh and call Rudolph names until one foggy Christmas eve when he guided Santa’s sleigh with his bright red nose?  Really?

In the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, what do the lyrics ‘Christmas eve will find me where the love light gleams’ mean?   The reality is, it’s hardly a comforting song; the man singing it is in New Orleans at a business convention and away from his wife on Christmas eve, so tells her not to worry he’ll be in the red light district, where the ‘love light’ gleams, while she’s at home trying to explain to the kids exactly why daddy’s not home for Christmas.

Say, what was all the laughing about on that one-horse open sleigh?  The sleigh riders had actually stolen the sleigh and were having a hardy prankster’s laugh.  The truth is, however, they didn’t laugh all the way, the horse developed gas about midway through the trip and in an open sleigh that’s no laughing matter.

 What exactly where the 10 Lords-a-Leaping leaping about?  Have you seen how tight their leotards are?  They’re like a cheap hotel, no ballroom.  As long as that song is, you’d be leaping too if you had to wear tights through the whole thing.

Does Santa really have a list?  No, this veiled threat evolved from a misinterpretation of the original song; the actual lyrics made reference to Santa’s speech impediment saying, ‘He’s making a lisp’.

Is Santa Claus coming to town?  No, if you’d read my sister’s piece on this blog earlier in the week, you’d know that Santa never left town.

Thank you for following our blog

Have a great holiday season and a healthy and happy 2012

YOU’RE A SAD ONE, MRS. GRINCH

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Much has been made in the press about the second grade teacher in upstate New York that told her class that there was no Santa Claus.  Apparently people are so angry that she is receiving threats.  As boneheaded as her move was, I don’t feel angry with this teacher; I feel sorry for her.  She obviously lives in a very exacting world, where Christmas is cut and dried and allows no room for the magic that occurs each year.  Of course there is a Santa Claus!  Some may call it “Christmas spirit” but each year – if we’re lucky – it enriches our lives.

Christmas is a sentimental time and like many people I’ve been reflecting about Christmases past the last few days.   I was fortunate to grow up (and still be) in a wonderful family that more than gets along … my brothers and I actually like being together.  At our house, we had LOTS of magical Christmases.  Our dad was a warm, wonderful, funny person who was in his element at Christmas with his bow tie that looked like holly and his infectious laugh.  In later years we also came to appreciate the gin ice cream fizzes that he fixed every Christmas morning!  I miss him especially at Christmas but know that his spirit lives on whenever our family gathers together.

As I’ve grown older I’ve found magic in finding the perfect gift for my husband or kids and watching their faces light up when they open it.  And just the other day I found it while making Christmas cookies for our grandsons.    It is there for all of us, usually in the small moments and memories, and makes each Christmas a time of appreciation of those we hold close.

I wish that teacher had received my friend Cheryl Ortenburger’s  Christmas letter this year, for she captured the essence of Santa perfectly in the following paragraph:

I believe that Santa Claus not only represents innocence, but is the embodiment of hopes and dreams.  He is the epitome of selfless giving.   Who does not want to personify that selfless image and be a part of making someone’s wishes comes true?  Of course, we all do!  Hence the race with the calendar and our yeoman’s efforts to find THE gift that will bring a smile to that special someone’s face.  We do this in the name of Hanukah, or Christmas, or Santa, or whatever the cultural or religious motivation.  I think Santa brings out the best in us, draws us together, and unites us in spirit.  Kids all over the world know who Santa is and excitedly await his arrival.  Although Santa has been accused of being a little commercial at times, who can help but love the jolly old elf, with the twinkle in his eye, and corncob pipe?  I think Santa represents the best part of us.  However we chose to celebrate, let’s follow the example of Santa and find the best in ourselves and see the best in others.  

I wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous 2012.  And mostly, I hope no one dares to tell you that there is no Santa Claus.

 

 Morning News in Verse, Christmas 1971

The Top 10 Reasons Why Thanksgiving vs Christmas Is My Favorite Holiday

by Bob Sparrow

10.  Only holiday that features eating

9. Don’t have to figure out what to get my 92 year old mother

8. Not as scary as Halloween, not as expensive as Christmas

7. Don’t have to find that one Thanksgiving Day light that keeps the whole string from not lighting

6. Better Post holiday: Eating leftover turkey sandwiches beats taking down the tree, lights and putting away Aunt Mildred’s fruit cake

5. Turkeys are worshiped by all religions

4. Credit card still has room on it

3. Tryptophan puts me to sleep, figuring out what to get my wife keeps me awake

2. No insipid Thanksgiving Day commercials on TV

1. Three days to sober up

PILGRIM’S PROGRESS?

Some thoughts on Thanksgiving by Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I have spent much of my time the past few months writing the history of our family.  My research has taken me to places that I never expected to go. For example, the Napa State Hospital for the Insane where our great-grandfather was housed in 1900.  But that aside, most of our relatives were fine, upstanding people. In fact, a few weeks ago I discovered that we are related to 5 of the seventeen families that came over on the Mayflower. 

I’ve been reading a lot about our relatives, the Pilgrims, and have been reminded of facts I’m sure I learned in school but had long forgotten.  The journey was 66 days long and quite perilous during the latter half of it.  When they landed in Plymouth in November of 1620 there was no reprieve from the cramped confines of the ship.  Most of the passengers had to live on board while the first housing structures were built. The quarters were small to begin with and were not enhanced by two months at sea with no bathing or washing of clothes.  In fact, one of the first things the men did when they landed was to cut down juniper trees to bring on board in an attempt to improve the odor.  Those close quarters and the brutal New England winters caused much illness and disease.  Half of the original passengers died that first winter.  When spring arrived, the remaining crew members eagerly set sail and returned to England.  But the Pilgrims stayed on in Plymouth and continued to build their village.  By the next year, in November of 1621, they celebrated their first bountiful harvest with the native population and that meal has come to symbolize Thanksgiving.

So armed with all of this new knowledge I decided to really celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  My first stop was Target where I went in search of some kitschy decorations – a wreath, a turkey candle, maybe even a Pilgrim hat.  No such luck.  Thanksgiving was relegated to an end post on one aisle.  I was lucky to find an accordion turkey and a paper tablecloth.  Apparently that is the extent to which Target wishes to celebrate the day.  It was the same scenario in store after store.  Somehow we have turned into a society that goes directly from Halloween (a money-making holiday) to Christmas (another money-making holiday).

I think the people who struggled so greatly to establish the first colony in this country deserve a bit more respect.  Would it really be so bad if we focused a bit more on gratitude and a little less on greed?  We could start with Congress and then move on to the Target merchandising department.

Happy Thanksgiving!

HOLLOW HALLOWEEN

An opinion…by Suzanne Watson

I read the other day that Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year, more than any other holiday except Christmas.  The head of the National Retail Association says that Halloween is now a “season”.  I guess I should have known that, what with all the paraphernalia that is evident everywhere from the grocery store to Ace Hardware.  But when did this happen?  When did Halloween turn into something that – like Christmas – the retailers have taken over and completely exploited?

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, it seems like Halloween has gotten much too complicated.  When I was a kid Halloween was simple.  Costumes were cobbled together from things found around the house – a sheet with holes in it for a ghost or towels pinned around the neck for a Superman cape.  If one was really lucky you had a grandparent with a glass eye so you could borrow their patch for a pirate costume.  The occasional kid bought a plastic mask at the five and dime but that was thought to be phony and close to cheating.  The fun of Halloween was using our imagination to come up with the cleverest costume.  We proudly marched in our school parades and vied for the prize for best costume.   Yep – they gave out one award.  We didn’t get a ribbon just for participating.

On Halloween night, we were let loose in the neighborhoods near us with a battle plan that would have done justice to an Army general.  We plotted out which houses to avoid – those that gave out hard candy or fruit – and which to hit first.  The lady around the corner was always our starting point because she made delicious popcorn balls.  Then we progressed to the homes that dished out candied apples, divinity, brownies, and fudge.  We never gave a thought about eating food that had been prepared by someone we didn’t really know.  It was all home-made, lovingly wrapped up in waxed paper or aluminum foil, and it was scrumptious.

These days Halloween has turned into an extravaganza – or in the words of the retailers – a “season”.  At my local Target the part of the store that hasn’t already been turned into a Christmas wonderland is dedicated to over-the-top Halloween displays.  And our Hallmark store is a complete freak show.   There are strings of lights to put on the house, special Halloween gift bags and toys, a Pin the Tail on the Cat game and aisle after aisle of decorations and party favors.

According to the article, adults are increasingly participating in this holiday that was once the domain of children.  I suppose we should have seen this coming.  People are in need of an escape these days and what better way to suppress your anger about your 401K than to dress up like one of the Angry Birds?  Still, it seems like this should be a holiday for children, not another excuse for mom and dad to dress up like fools (we still have New Year’s Eve for that).

But the real change is that so many kids no longer trick-or-treat.  Now the trend is to have home parties.    I know that there are more risks today and that the world is full of scary people, but I still find it sad that kids miss the fun of going house to house.  Because no matter how great the favors are from Target, it can’t be as much fun as plotting routes, knocking on strangers’ doors and being rewarded with popcorn balls.

Selfishly, I miss seeing the kids come around each year.  I miss asking them about their costumes and providing the appropriate response when they twirl in their princess dress or growl in their werewolf mask.  I still buy Snickers bars each Halloween in hopes that someone will come by, but inevitably they end up in my freezer.  Eventually my husband and I eat them and I end up doing extra time at the gym.  Halloween – and my metabolism – are both different these days.

THE SCARIEST HALLOWEEN IN YEARS

A commentary by Bob Sparrow

It’s that time of year, a time for scary things.  Here are some things that are scaring the shit out of me this Halloween.

  • Our government  Never have we been so polarized.  We see our government not trying to do what’s right for the American people, but making sure the other party doesn’t get credit for doing what’s right for the American people.  If you want to start an argument, just take a right or left position on a subject and you will very quickly see a ‘house divided’.  Our government is broken and no one seems to care, much less know how to fix it.
  • Politicians (Obviously I’m not done with our government yet!)  Today’s
    politicians from both parties are first, self-serving, then party-serving and rarely, if ever, think about 1) serving the people in their constituency, and 2) doing what is best for the country.  Our Social Security program is not good enough for them; our health care system is not good enough for them.  Get them on the same programs as the rest of us, get them term limits and get them out!  They are the problem they’re pretending to fix.
  • Our position on illegal aliens  What don’t people get about the word ‘illegal’?  We have always been a nation of laws, except when it comes to this issue.  It is now considered to be prejudicial and politically incorrect (another scary thing) to try to up-hold the law regarding this problem, because it is primarily directed at the Hispanic community.  Bull shit!  Illegal is illegal.  We have good immigration laws, it’s scary that we don’t enforce them.
  • The dumbing down of America.  Perhaps it’s because modern technology has exposed more, but wow, are we stupid!  People don’t read anymore, they get their news, thoughts and cultural enlightenment from reality TV and celebrity
    tweets.  It’s scary how important what Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian are doing.  Our commitment to education is best demonstrated by the ever-widening
    gap between what we pay our professional athletes and what we pay our teachers.
  • Retirement.  It’s turned me into a sedentary curmudgeon.

 What’s scaring you this Halloween? 

Use our ‘Comments’ section to let us know.