The Christmas That Was

Christmas 2019, Fredericksburg, Texas

This was a completely different post a few hours ago. In essence, I revealed how miserable and anxious I was feeling about the upcoming holidays. On reflection, I realized that’s not what I want to share with my friends. Instead I hope you enjoy these pretty pictures from Christmas 2019 which we spent in central Texas with the most glorious weather.

The Christmas Tree and Decorations at Fredericksburg 2019

There will be happy holidays and celebrations in the future. Please keep safe and warm. 🎄

The Grinch won’t leave!

What is it about the holidays?  My mental health is better than it has been in months but still the festive season pushes all my buttons.  I think I used to enjoy Christmas but at some point it just became stressful.  It was better when there was very little money in our lives.  Presents were much needed and usually a delight – despite a white and brown polyester dressing gown that I had to wear for years…  In later years my late crazy mother got her knickers in a twist about the varieties of Christmas puddings and drove her daughter nuts trying to find the PERFECT one.  Remember when there was only one or you made your own?

As my mental health was improving during fall, I got very busy creating postcards from Teddy’s beautiful images.  Then I started on my handmade soaps and enjoyed the process.  I wrapped them prettily and gifted them to everyone.  It backfired somewhat as I made some friends feel that they had to reciprocate.  The true joy is in giving with no expectations.

Then Teddy got some unanticipated leave from his new job and we went to Fredericksburg for Christmas, possibly the most famous German town in central Texas Hill Country.  It was really beautifully decorated and the weather was fantastic – photos to follow.  Despite enjoying my environment, historic buildings and endless wineries, I couldn’t stop being irritated.

  • There were too many tourists yet we were two of them…
  • The other cars were driving like crazy Grinches – especially through Austin, the most traffic-congested city in Texas.
  • Our luxurious room wasn’t quite clean enough (it really wasn’t).
  • I was bored and tired.
  • The road from Medina to Kerrville was ridiculous – hairpin bends and really steep gradients. I guess I missed the point about visiting the hill country.
  • Teddy sleeps like an owl and I am like a bear. Maybe I should hibernate through winter??
  • Other guests. That’s a standalone but they were talking outside in broad daylight, beeping their cars locked and worse still, talking in their room at 7 pm.  They ate all the breakfast.

I know what you are thinking – poor Teddy.  It’s true that he put up with a Grinch wife but we still had wonderful meals and laughed all the time.  I am hoping that made up for the time, after driving for hours in silence, I turned on the CD to keep myself focused AND THEN he started talking.  I told him to Shut the F*** Up and gave him the finger.  Thirty seven years and counting – I love you Teddy!!!!

 

Bah humbug

Krampus, courtesy of AV Club

Krampus, courtesy of AV Club

Nothing I do can get me in a festive mood – I am so grumpy that it is funny.  Every year I love decorating my 7 foot tall, expensive, fake tree decorated with ornaments from our childhood and from all over the world (but not this year).  I create a snow village under the tree that occasionally a cat has peed on or wrecked.  One year our little Egyptian terrorists (cats) raided Bethlehem and the nativity scene.  I used to say that I was spiritual or an atheist depending on my snarky mood but now I know I am a lapsed Catholic doomed to spend eternity in Purgatory or worse…

Most years I host a Christmas party in the house but this year Teddy said ‘No’!  He was quite right – that would have tipped me over the edge.  While he was in Scotland on business, I decorated ‘somewhat’ with my best ornaments hanging from our chandeliers.  I even painted our outside furniture and adorned the porch with some discreet fairy lights and decorations.

As most of you know, I volunteer at an airport which is a hub for Latin America, in particular.  I love it or I wouldn’t still be doing it after 8 years.  I wore my regulation Santa hat (apparently my reindeer antlers don’t cut it??) and my red and black banded tights, with my non regulation miniskirt…  The first person that irked me was another staff member – I was racing across the terminal to help someone and I said, “Ho ho ho!” to him.  He responded, “Or something” with no smile, looking at me as though I was a ‘Ho.  WTF!  This was balanced by another staff member who stopped me on my return to ask me if the elves were still on strike – the kids loved that.

I often work in the international terminal when the Central American flights come in.  This week it was something special, with Abuela’s (Grandma’s) in full traditional clothing coming in from Guatemala and El Salvador.  Many families had traveled with their whole family from other states just to meet their precious relatives who they may not have seen for many years.   Children from this region look entirely Maya and one little poppet who looked adorable in a little white furry jacket.  She looked like a little Maya angel tree-topper.  After three hours, I wondered if the Maya gods would reward me for sacrificing one of their precious children…who were now screaming and kicking my door (I am jesting, of course).  To my credit I kept smiling and reassuring everyone in bad Spanish that their relatives would be out soon – (hopefully not from holding cells).

It was perhaps all the Christmas social events leading up to now that provoked this Krampus spirit within me.  I am feeling very sensitive and every thoughtless comment bothers me.  You will love this one, “I preferred it when you were the happy, smiling Kerry”.  Really, really??  Guess what, me too!! “Your hair is getting a bit long”.  Are you my stylist?  Poor Teddy said, “You have spilled something on the floor”.  Biting sarcasm ensued regarding my qualities as a serf to his Highness.

Driving is always bad here but right now there are demons at the wheel.  Why don’t you all go through the red light – it’s only there for decoration?  What terrible gift are you going to buy that’s worth racing for – just use Amazon like a normal person.  They employ demons to drive their trucks…  Now the weather Gods have turned on us.  It has gone from freezing to about 80 degrees – everyone is sneezing, wearing fleeces with sandals.  Today, I tried to turn the tide.  I went to my favorite coffee shop to speak Arabic to my Palestinian friend.  I can tell he is missing Jerusalem – it’s colder there.  Then I went to the Salvation Army kettle and chatted to the old man about the stupid weather.  I asked him if he needed a cold drink because it was so damned hot!  I passed by the pet store and bought Toffee a knitted toucan filled with catnip.  Katniss got a knitted dog because I thought she would love to savage one…

On a more serious note, I am deeply saddened that road rage or any bad mood could make someone fire a gun and kill a child.  Even worse, kill innocent shoppers at a Christmas market or attack fleeing evacuees in a war zone.  It is within all of us to find our inner angel and love our fellow man.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Super Solstice to all!

 

 

 

Liebster Award

liebster5A big thank you to Lisa, Life of an El Paso Woman who nominated me for a Liebster Award. I was going to say this is a No Award site but the Grinch has left my soul after a lovely day working on Christmas Day and I will accept with gracious appreciation.

The rules are: 1. Say thank you to the person who nominated you. 2.Pick 5 people to nominate 3. Ask 5 questions. 4. Post the pic in the post.

These are Lisa’s 10 questions –

1. What’s your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. Everyone can celebrate it, no one needs to fight about what they should call the holiday (yes, it’s a happy holiday :)). There are no presents and most of us have something to be thankful about.

2. What is your favorite thing to cook or bake?
Nothing at all. Does salad out of a packet count with bottled dressing?

3. What’s the best thing about the city where you live?
My city is built in an indigenous forest. There are critters everywhere. We had the infra red camera out on Christmas and counted Betsy Sue the Possum and her two kids, Louanne and Chuck, two Woodrats, Willie and Winnie, the Raccoon twins, Rocky and Robbie, KATNISS, our feral cat who came back for Christmas. We think that Betsy Sue’s ‘husband’ was there too – Travis?

4. What are some of your favorite movies?
The Wizard of Oz and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. How is that for a contrast but they both have a moral tale…

5. What was one of the hardest thing you’ve ever done in life so far?
Move to Egypt and stay there after the Gulf War started.

6. Who are you the closest with in your family?
Does my husband count? If not, probably my dead mother, I see her in the mirror every day and somehow her words come out of my mouth in an involuntary manner. “Do you want a smack?”

7. Why did you start blogging?
To make me finish and publish my book. Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan

8. Is the glass half empty or half full?
Mostly half full but I am happily medicated…

9. Are you a Star Wars fan?
Of course! Can’t you see my uncanny resemblance to Princess Leia? You should see me in a gold bikini and chains…

10. What was your favorite toy growing up?
BEBE! The doll that Daddy sent me

Now I nominate five people and give them five questions to answer.  I nominate –

A Vegan in Las Vegas
Tomorrow Definitely
The Ardross-man
Weird Guy With The Dog
New England Nomad

Here are my questions –
1. Who was your first TV/Film hero or crush?
2. What other place in the world do you think you could live in?
3. What would you like engraved on your tombstone or written on your obituary?
4. What food to you hate to eat?
5. Star Wars or Star Trek?

The Christmas Letter

zed in snow

Zhenny in the Christmas Snow

For some reason I thought it was perfectly okay to announce that my husband was laid off on the world wide web before telling family or friends. It is as if I am writing a diary to a special friend instead of hundreds of people. Once we started receiving email attachment and snail mail letters my husband thought that I should compose one. I had actually written a short note to put in my overseas mail but they were sent before the bad day. It was impossible to think of a way to write a letter. Should I do my usual, list our vacations, health issues and then just finish with ‘and BTW my husband was laid off’? I finally decided that humor and straight forwardness was the best bet. This is, more or less, what I wrote to friends and family (leaving out some personal details). My husband is A.

Festive Greetings friends and family
First, and most important, who sent the chocolates to Auntie M.? She thought it was me, so before any other relatives get embarrassed and have to say, “I haven’t sent you anything” please tell her who the culprit was.

I saw this marvelous quote from NBC News –‘Tis the season to get flooded with Christmas letters — often a litany of bombastic bragging disguised as holiday cheer’. I thought that is a tad harsh but sometimes I have thought that and you might have about our letters… So without further ado, as soon as we came back from a fabulous vacation in Baha, A. was made redundant or laid off, as you say in the States. His company has been really struggling with both the oil price and the hostile takeover. They kept moving him from job to job but I could see the writing on the wall.

A. has been given a good severance package and we figure we have a year to get him a job in Siberia or Saudi… At first you are devastated – what next – but then reality sinks in and you think, ‘I could be living in Syria’. He is most likely going to become an independent contractor and has been given a verbal offer of a contract in the next few months. Given how bad things are, however, we will wait until there is something in writing before we open the cheap wine.

We applied for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act and are eligible, but not able to apply until our health coverage runs out (3 months as we are, 18 months on Cobra). I was putting off applying for Disability as my doctor suggested I do, so I will think about it seriously in January. In the meantime we had a laugh when my earnings were predicted to be more than A.’s in the next few months between the book earnings and my occasional job as a writer for a local magazine. So far, so good and I am onto my third article.
Blogging is keeping me sane so there are endless blogs for you to peruse when you are bored. This is the one about A. being laid off
A Bad Day
This is one about our vacation in Baha
The Exciting Bus Ride
Our oldest cat
Mrs. Stripe

So have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas, Super Solstice, Happy New Year. I am working on the 25th then will come home and cook my Teddy something reasonably nice for dinner. We swapped offices yesterday and didn’t start divorce papers so all is well and we had great fun at my fancy holiday event.

Love Kerry and A. xxx

We have had a few lovely responses from friends offering commiserations to practical help such as visiting Mum in the Alzheimer’s unit in Scotland. Many people we know work in the oil industry so there is barely anyone unaffected by this current downturn. Misery loves company! I laughed when I read the quote about Christmas letters. We have no children and have traveled frequently so ours probably sounded a bit like that in the past. You tend not to say that you have had vajazzling or many psychiatrist’s visits… Still, this blog is a way for our friends to know more than they ever wanted to about our sex life, my bad mental health and all the other funny things I write about. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!