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I don’t have grandchildren. I’ll try not to sound triumphant here, because the word on the street is I’m missing out on something so huge that apparently it would be sacrilegious to admit I am immensely relieved I don’t have grandchildren.

My friends rhapsodize that grandkids are the babies you can spoil to death in a way you never could with your own. They tell me the relationship with an older grandchild is special because of the purity of the relationship. There are no issues such as discipline, clouding the fun and games of time spent together.

But what I hear is babysitting. Babysitting here. Babysitting there. Babysitting while the parents go on a vacation… instead of me.

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PHOTOGRAPH ©BRENDA COFFEE, 2018
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If you’re new to my blog this is not the kind of thing I usually write about. I’m more interested in writing Promise Yourself These Six Things, Does Someone Need Your Help to Heal or Fifi’s Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Did Retirement. I’m writing this because of the number of emails I received about the serial killer I mentioned in last week’s blog. It’s also a reminder there are people like this in the world. Here’s a small snippet of a true story I’ve never published.

While I can’t tell you how or where I met him, I can tell you the last time I saw “Felix,” he’d killed 43 people. That was 15 years ago.

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For almost 35 years as Christmas approached, I worked my derrière off as I listened to clients stress out and complain about the holiday season: In-laws they didn’t like yet had to host; parents or their new spouses they didn’t like; kids that were challenging; presents they were obliged to buy; not enough time or money and no idea what to get anyone on their long list.

After six weeks of listening to this, I was Grinched out and in a “Merry Effin Christmas” mood, myself.

Now that I’ve retired, the last two years have been completely different. My shopping is simple. I buy something edible and Texas-authentic for each of my sisters. I give my son one gift I know he’ll love, and my partner and I plan a special trip – this year to Mexico. We spend our time with people we love, doing what we love, and this year it was all packed into a whirlwind 72 hours!

We began our holiday weekend by driving to San Antonio for lunch with a very dear friend. We took her to one of our favorite restaurants on the outskirts of the city where we ate, drank delicious Dirty Martinis, and talked non-stop for a fun-filled, three-hour lunch! Although it was the first time she and my partner had met, it was as if they were instantly old friends!

The next morning was Christmas Eve, and my sweetie’s daughter came to our motorhome for brunch before leaving to hike and camp in Big Bend. That evening we had dinner with his son’s family, where everyone ate gluten-free lasagna… just for me. It was delicious!

We also attended the annual pot-luck Christmas Party our friends have hosted for the past 10 years. A decade of fun, food, and frivolity! My son met us there, and since his Dad was in town, he was invited to join us, too. Having just lost one of our group to cancer, I noticed at this year’s bash everyone has begun saying, “I love you,” more earnestly, looking into each other’s eyes. And there were a lot more bear-hugs as everyone parted company.

Maybe age gives us wisdom and perspective after all, because loving one another is ultimately what the season is about.

XO, Donna

 

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Don’t hold me to this, but I’m thinking about signing up with one of those online dating sites. From time to time a good friend urges me to just go ahead and do it. He doesn’t like the thought of me being alone and wants me to meet a nice guy. While dating isn’t high on my priority list, I did go out a few months ago with a guy I met at the airport bus stop.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised when he “wasn’t the one.”

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“Christmas. It’s the “hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”

Or is it?

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IT'S DIFFICULT GETTING ANYTHING DONE WITH ANNIE AND LULU IN MY LAP.
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Annie and Lulu are growing into fine young ladies, especially after I sent them to finishing school while I was in Italy this fall. For three weeks the girls learned the finer points of sit, stay, heel, come, inside and place.

Now the biggest challenge they face is me.

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“Are you phubbing me?” he asked with a bit of attitude. I didn’t look up right away because I had no idea what the heck he said. When I finally looked up he said, “Are you watching this?”

“No,” I said. “I’m playing Words with Friends.”

“It feels like you’re not even here.”

I felt bad, but told him I wasn’t interested in what he was watching but wanted to be in the same room with him.

“It’s a thing,” he said. “Phubbing is real, and people are getting divorced over it.” Continue Reading

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My favorite fall sweater had several loose threads when I packed it away last spring, but I wasn’t ready to consider throwing it away. A few days ago, it wasn’t even out of the storage box when I started twirling and tucking the loose threads, thinking I could magically reattach them.

Discarding things has never been easy for me. It’s not that I’m a hoarder. I’m a fixer. A serial fixer. There… I said it out loud. Moving on from people hasn’t been easy either.

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At our age, when it seems like we have worked hard and should now get to relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors, many of us find ourselves caring for aging parents, an ill sibling or life-partner, or even a grown child who is sick and unable to care for themselves. We hadn’t counted on this twist of fate. Continue Reading