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I started writing this at home with the cats but they weren’t inspiring me at all so I have removed myself from home. I also had to get myself away from Lumosity! I am ridiculously addicted to the Flexibility games. I play so much that when I close my eyes at night I have visions of words (not sugarplums) dancing in my head. One of the few rules I have imposed on me about that particular addiction is to never play it outside of home. So I had to leave home, there was no other way I would get anything written. Here I sit in the window seat of the Second Cup around the corner from me. I won’t even call it a “cafe” because it really has none of the amenities that that word connotes. But, this Sunday afternoon, it works just fine. There are just enough people here to energize me and a too-sweet raisin-oatmeal cookie that I shouldn’t be eating. And, just to add to the theme of this blog, country holiday music is playing. Dolly Parton was just singing “I’ll be Home with Bells On.” She’s very good.

I was trying to ignore the holidays this year. Good luck with that one, eh? It’s not that I’m anti-holidays or anything like that. I actually like the lights and having a live tree — sorry environmentalists. It’s just that this year Harriet has taken all of my attention. I just don’t have the energy to start thinking about all that other stuff. I told the cats not to expect any presents this year. Rose immediately turned her back on me. She was telling me in Very Strong Body Language that I might just want to reconsider that decision.

It’s a good thing that she hadn’t heard the discussion in the locker room today. Wow, she would have been all over me about changing my tune in mid-whistle. I usually don’t take part in locker room conversations. When I first starting going to this place, the locker room blabbing drove me crazy. Maybe it was because I didn’t know any of the people back then so I couldn’t take part. But, truth be told, I still find most of it annoying to put it politely. But today it was about Hanukkah and traditions and giving or not giving presents. I listened from the other side of the room and when one of the women said, “You don’t have to worry about presents, you don’t have kids.” I butted in and said, “You don’t have to be a kid to like getting presents.”

It’s the truth. I like to get presents. I really do. I don’t think that makes me shallow or bad or childish or greedy. Not at all. I like surprises wrapped up in pretty paper. Yeah, I don’t need them but gosh I like getting them. And, anyway, when you have your birthday on Christmas Eve you don’t have any other time of the year when you might get a little something. My mother lived to be 95 and she loved getting presents to the day she died. I remember going down to Columbus for Christmas and watching her as she amassed her pile from the gifts under the tree. She always had more than anyone else and thought that was just the way it should be. I should say that after raising 12 kids, she deserved all the gifts that could ever come her way.

Mind you, I don’t buy into the whole commercialization of the holidays and having to listen to Jingle Bells or even Dolly Parton from October to January. No way. I’m especially disturbed by Canada adopting the “Black Friday” sale day. What does that even mean here? Thanksgiving here is on the Second Monday in October not the Last Thursday in November. If anything they should have Black Tuesday here. I worked with a woman when I first came here who would plan her holiday every year to go down to Buffalo for the Black Friday sales. I didn’t get it. But then I hate to shop no matter what you call it.

Back to the locker room, my friend asked me what I liked about getting gifts. I had to think about that a little so I didn’t sound too greedy. I told her I liked that someone thought about me and took the trouble to get something and wrap it up just to make me happy. I remember one Christmas years and years ago when I came home from DC. After we had opened all the presents, one of my brothers said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just wrap all of these up and give them to people in need?” Sure, I thought, but I said, “But we thought about you when we picked this out.” That seemed to me to be in the true spirit of the season no matter what the holiday.

When I got home from breakfast, my friend had sent me an email with an attachment about the True Meaning of Hanukkah. I knew some of the story but not about facing a fear. Maybe it’s a good time for me to face that box of Mediterranean Journey books that I’ve hidden away in the closet.

But, you know what, in the end, I still like giving and getting presents! Yes, Rose, there will be fresh nip in your stocking this year just like always.


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Today is St. Nicholas Day. It’s Nick’s feast day. I gave him this box which he loves. In the true spirit of the season, he didn’t complain one little bit when his sister snuck in.