Tag Archives: holidays

The Joys of Being Single During the Holidays

Fatal Attraction Opera Night

It’s that time of year when singles of all ages and backgrounds lament about being alone.  It’s holiday time, right?  People tend to couple up and cuddle or enjoy family traditions. For many folks one tradition is being asked, “Are you seeing anyone?”

(My family never asks this, by the way, as if such an idea is just crazy talk.)

But there are things that are really cool about not having a significant other during the holidays.

Here comes a list.

  1. No splitting holidays!

How many have done the — “Okay, we’ll spend Christmas Eve with your parents, Christmas Day at my Grandma’s and Christmas dinner at your sister’s.

Or this year we’ll go to your family and next year we’ll visit mine — as if your respective families have some sort of court ordered visitation schedule forced upon you. Children of divorce have been during this for years.  Once you are half of a grown up couple, you’ll find yourself doing it again.

Single?  You can sit at your own mom’s house — or your own damn house.

“I ain’t going nowhere.”

The Holiday

Cameron Diaz, home for the night in “The Holiday”

2.  Less Gifts To Buy

AKA save your money for something for yourself, charity, or pay off credit card debt you racked up when you had a honey to buy for, his/her family to buy for and back when you bought all the crap to make you look good 24/7.  It makes sound financial sense to be single, particularly from Black Friday until right after President’s Day.

The money blogs tend not to encourage break ups, but they should, and say:

Ways to build wealth:

First, cut up your credit cards,

Second, cut loose your BAE.

(Yes, I said BAE, I’ll show myself out.)

3.  Less Gifts to Receive

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

From What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

I’ve gotten some bad ones.  When I was only a mere 19 year old a future brother-in-law gave us a gift card — to a hotel!

A HOTEL GIFT CARD AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT TO BE OPENED IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE FAMILY!

(awkward)

And then there was a time when slim, young,and I thought pretty damn cute me was given a pink nylon track suit.

The kind you see worn in nursing homes.

Wait, what?   Have you seen me?  I mean I’ve never been a slave to fashion, but I’m not completely devoid of  .. of . . .giving a shit what I look like!  C’mon, now!  

And then I had to find a way never to wear it, or claim that it didn’t fit and return it.  (I believe I returned it, although it was clearly a one size fits all situation.)  And I still had to endure the disapproving looks from my husband.

humbug

Later on my my marriage we used to go to a white elephant Christmas party where everyone brought ugly, useless, yet nicely wrapped gifts to exchange for laughs.  I had a seemingly endless supply of tacky items that had actually been given to me — lighted moving flowers in plastic cases — that was a crowd favorite.

Anyway, when you’re single you get less —- crap.

4.  Your decor, or lack thereof,is your own

 

Christmas vacation

It doesn’t matter if somebody is allergic to real trees.  You can get one.  It doesn’t matter if you’d rather hang lights on your potted plant or toilet.  It doesn’t matter if you would prefer not to decorate anything at all.  It doesn’t matter if a lapsed Baptist girl wants a Menorah.  You don’t have to start or maintain anyone else’s traditions or preferences. It’s all you, baby.

5.  No work party discomfort

You don’t have to convince a significant other to go, and  you don’t have to explain why your significant other is not there with you (“He’s working tonight.” This was my favorite work party lie.)  But when you are single, you can show up on your schedule, make the rounds and leave whenever you damn well please. (All the big stars leave early.  Look at the talk shows.)

1 dustin_kramer1

Or, if you’re having fun you can stay until the bitter end without having your date do the raised eyebrow, tap the invisible watch, shoulder shrug combo which means,“You promised we wouldn’t have to stay long.  I want to go home and watch Die Hard.”

6. And the best one?   

You have no idea what things will be like next year.

1 boob graze 7509.0.570.359

Boob graze in The Holiday

Being uncoupled, you haven’t promised to honor the same — time-sharing, lame gift giving and receiving, fake tree, awkward party-duty, 24 hours of A Christmas Story — Christmas simply because that’s what you did with your partner last year, and every year.

Nope. You’re free.

Next year, you might try something different.

Next year, you might be someone different.

Next year, you might be with someone new, or not (remember to consider cleaning house mid-November, your bank account will thank you).

The possibilities are endless.

Just Me With . . . no one. And that’s alright with me.

See also Annual Holiday Christmas Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Keeping it Simple at Christmas

Miracle on 34th Street

I was listening to some radio show where they asked a  little girl what she wanted for Christmas.  She said, “A stuffed animal.” She said Santa could choose what kind.  When asked if she wanted anything else, she added, “Chapstick.”

With all the ads and shopping frenzy it occurred to me that it’s easy to ignore the actual requests of children  — and adults.   Despite the elaborate Barbie houses and race car sets and “i” everything and “e” readers and bright lights and touch screens, sometimes it’s the simple things that matter.  Now I’m not perfect.  There have been times when I’ve over indulged my children and there have been times when my children were sorely disappointed, but here’s a list of some of the simple  things that brought joy:

1.  Goggles.  One year when my daughter was little all she asked for was goggles.  I guess Santa went to Home Depot, because a $2 pair of plastic work goggles appeared on Christmas morning and the girl was ecstatic.

Safety First, Safety Last, Safety Goggles for Christmas

2.  Stuffed Animal.  My kid was just like the girl on the radio, except she was older,  maybe eleven years old, right on the edge of the electronic appetite.  But she has always loved to cuddle with soft stuffed things.  Still does, even in her advancing teen years.  The stuffed bunny she received that year “lives”  in her room and she takes it with her on sleepovers and visits with her dad.

The stuffed animal, a classic.

3.  Nothing.   Babies are simple creatures.  They like to look at bright lights.  When they are older they play with boxes.  Except for maybe purchasing something they may have needed anyway (a new teether or sleepers), babies don’t need anything for Christmas except someone to show them the pretty lights and sing to them.  Sometimes I would ball up pieces of wrapping paper and toss it to the babies (under supervision of course, can’t let the little angels eat paper) and the babies would be occupied trying to pick up the strange, shiny ball.

4.  Etch-a-Sketch.   Low-tech.  Gender-neutral.  Hours of fun.  Needs no insurance.  When it breaks (and it will) it will have served its purpose and you can replace it, or not.

Etch A Sketch

5. Coupon for Playing a Video Game with My Son.  Okay, so this one hurt a bit.  But it cost me nothing, except for maybe a couple of Tylenol.  I’m not a gamer.  I do a lot of activities with my kids, but gaming, at least the warfare type, has never been my cup of tea.   But one Christmas I gave him a coupon promising an hour of video game time with me.  I broke it up in two segments.  It was horrible.  I’m horrible.  I tried to do my best, but I shot at the ground, repeatedly.   He took great joy in this.   But bonus?   He doesn’t ask me to play anymore.  On occasion I’ll him ask if I can play and I get the response,

“No, Mom, no.”

I am not a gamer.

6.  A lock box.  This wasn’t for my kids, it was for another relative.  He was twenty something and had mentioned in passing that he always wanted a safe.  I think he was recently out of college at the time and literally had nothing of value to protect, but I guess he had some personal items, because when he opened that fireproof lockbox safe ($19.99) he  laughed broadly and exclaimed,

“I always wanted one of these!”   At six feet five inches tall, he was like a big little kid.

“Thank you!”   He continued to smile as he examined his box with the same look of joy and amazement he used to have when opening a new Lego set.

I don’t want to know what he keeps in that box.

Lock Box

Just Me With . . . thoughts on keeping it simple.

There have been others, but I’m trying to keep this simple, and short.

Other holiday related posts:

Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.

Time Management,  Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving — Some things will take exactly as much time as you allot to them.

The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year —  Unfortunate comment.

All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise —  You never know the impact people have on each other.

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of  — Thanksgiving my my house, without my kids.

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

Time Management, Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving

I have a theory.  Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them.  I apply this theory to two things:  packing for a move and Holiday shopping.

Packing for a Move

When Carrie Was Preparing to Move, Sex and The City

The Early Packer: 

If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before.    When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence.  You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.

The Last Minute Move:

Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks,  2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same.  You’ll get out, you’ll get in.  It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out.  And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.

In either scenario,  there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function.  Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable.   Yes, plan and organize.  Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months.  If not, it’ll get done, because it has to.  You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move.  You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move.  You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials.  You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you.  Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.

Holiday Shopping

The Early Shopper:

We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed.  Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas.   My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.

Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer.    If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th.  Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc.  So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th.   It that’s your thing, go for it.  But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight.  Cha-Ching!!

The “Last Minute” Shopper:

If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th.  It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs?   Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day.  If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long?  Well go buy  it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.

Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not. 

So why spend months spending? 

Why not just get what you got?

Am I preaching procrastination?

Maybe.  I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh.  I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things.  I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness.  However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel.   I don’t want to shop for six months.

It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand.  (That sounds better, no?)

This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together.   They give people three days to get it all done.  What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses?    The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home.   No, sometimes things just have to get done.  Make a decision.  Done.

Starting early isn’t always the answer.

I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st.   In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning,  make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.

Then I will shop.  No, I will buy.  I won’t have the luxury to shop.  I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway.  It’s like a move out date.

It’ll get done.  It has to.

I’m okay with that.

Just Me With . . .  a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.  

Caveat:   Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life.  It could result in  — bad things.

Phew!  I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished.  Ha!

Other holiday related posts:

Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.

Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.

The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year —  Unfortunate comment.

All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise —  You never know the impact people have on each other.

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of  — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.

 

The Annual Holiday Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year

Over the weekend I went to an annual holiday party given by  friends from my old neighborhood.  It was nice, uneventful and   “Met Expectations”   which is very significant, at least compared to last year.

I expected to be the only uncoupled, hell, the only unmarried person there.  Yup.  These were many of the same people  I saw when “I  Went To A Wedding Alone” and was seated with four other couples.   The party was hosted by  the very cool woman who had been there for me “When I Needed a Helping Hand,”  and her husband, my former “Go-To Guy.”  Good people.

As expected, I got the same inquiries about the kids, the new house (though I’ve been there for two years now),  how the “new” neighborhood is, work, career, how I spend my time, etc.  No questions about whether I’m seeing anyone.   I hardly ever get that question.  What’s up with that?    But I digress.   That is a topic for another post.

What was different this year was that I was ready for the whole scene.  I expected the questions and the topics of conversations that really did not apply to me and to which I could not relate.  I had my stock responses. I came to the realization that this is how it will be with these folks as a group, people  from a past life.

It was a step up from last year.

At this same party last year, I found myself chatting with two very different women.  One  is a true, down-to-earth angel who has been such a  huge help and selfless friend in my time of need and thereafter.  She was the mother of the bride when “I Went To A Wedding Alone.”   The other  woman is the wife of my old boss.  SeeRiding With My Boss.”  This woman, who I’ll call Ellen BlueBlood,  has been a long-time acquaintance, but never a good friend, we never really clicked.   She always seemed a bit snobbish to me.  Ellen BlueBlood was going on and on about her University graduated daughter who was doing all of these wonderful things, being offered all of these fabulous opportunities, she was becoming such of special woman of substance, blah, blah, blah.    It was ridiculous, really.  Then the topic turned to  the daughter’s boyfriend.   This was infinitely more interesting to me, it had to be better than hearing the enhanced overview of her resume.

Ellen BlueBlood, however, was not impressed with her daughter’s boyfriend.   She slowed her speech, shook her head, sighed.   I don’t know if she clucked her tongue but she might as well have.

As if this universally summed up the reasons for her distaste of this young man, she said,

“His parents are divorced.   We don’t like that.”

It just hung there. It just hung there like a fart.

My angel friend, intimately aware of the  toll that the  end of my marriage  took on my family,  knew that this was just a stupid thing  for Ellen to say — in front of anyone,   let alone me.   I don’t  remember exactly what my angel friend said,  but she tried to correct and diffuse the  sheer stupidity and insensitivity of  Ellen BlueBlood’s remark.   It didn’t work.   Mrs. BlueBlood didn’t get it.  It went right over her head.   She went on to discuss the boyfriend and made truly legitimate complaints about him — i.e. he tried to break up with her daughter at a funeral.   Yeah, she should have led with that.  Now that’s a good reason to dislike the boy.

I said nothing.  At the time,   Ellen BlueBlood’s stupid comment hit hard.  I was already feeling so vulnerable, being single at a party for couples, and  embarrassed that everyone in the room knew of my troubles, etc.  But then, having to hear such hurtful stupidity,  and suddenly realizing she might not be the only person in the world who feels that way, . . .  wondering whether some idiot  will unfairly judge my children because of my failed marriage —  well,  her comment, as I said, hit me hard — last year.

But this year,  when the same woman went on and on about her daughter’s international travels and appointments, blah, blah, blah.  I was just  bored.

Okay, maybe part of me hopes her daughter shacks up with a truck driving, gun rack mounted, sleeve tattooed, home-made cigarette smoking, tooth challenged, GED failing and criminal record having, good old boy named Bubba, — that is, until Bubba kicks her out  of the trailer and she ends up with an unemployed, black as night rebound guy, who is a  multiple baby mama having, “Up and Coming” Rapper chasing a record deal,  whose grandmother  raised him (of course),  yet she is ten years younger than Ellen BlueBlood and cleans her office at night.  Maybe part of me would enjoy that. I mean, really, if  Ellen BlueBlood is scared of a stereotype, let’s give her a boatload of the really offensive ones, right?   Yeah,  I’m human— and perhaps a little evil.  heh heh heh.  

And oh snap, Ellen BlueBlood also has a son– a less accomplished  son attending a second-tier  (oh, the horror) college.     Hmmm.   Maybe I should hit that.  Ha!    But I digress.

In the end, this year’s party was uneventful.  I deserve that.   My realistic  expectations were met, nod to my fellow Tweeter   @blogginglily who described it as such.  Unlike last year, no one insulted me (to my face) and I was– if not entirely comfortable–  at least accepting of being with this group of couples.  Bonus, since it was a white elephant Christmas gift exchange party, I got  a present:

We  all thought it was a candle holder, but a smart Tweeter @TX_Lisa pointed out that the side candles would drip and suggested instead  that it might be  a vase.   So yeah, the party  “met expectations”  and I got a scary, hideous, slightly pornographic vase.     Not too shabby.

Just Me With . . . the ugliest vase ever . . . and  expectations met.    

Hmmmm, I wonder when  Ellen BlueBlood’s boy gets home from college for the holidays . . .

(And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?   Ha!

Other holiday related posts:

Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.

Time Management,  Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving — Some things will take exactly as much time as you allot to them.

All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise —  You never know the impact people have on each other.

Keeping It Simple At Christmas — Bells and whistles are not always required.

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind of  — Thanksgiving in my house, without my kids

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

Blowing Off The Holidays

My daughter recently asked me if she could fake being sick to get out of spending Thanksgiving with her Dad’s new wife’s family.   Of course I said no.    She’s a kid, and basically she has to go with the grown-ups.   But it got me to thinking.   For an adult, who, for whatever reason, wants out  but doesn’t want to offend,  here are some excuses to use to get out of the holiday dinner.

1.  Fake illness.

Yes, my daughter is a genius.   A stomach virus works best, because no one wants the prospect of developing diarrhea after sharing a big meal with you.   But food poisoning is  perfect —  it only lasts 24 hours, so when you show up at the stores on Black Friday after having skipped Thanksgiving with the family, you won’t be “outed.”  Ladies, just don’t use blush the next day.  You’ve got to look a bit pale when seen in public again.

2.  I have to study.

Students, you are very, very lucky, you’ve got a built-in excuse.  The higher the education, the easier it is to use.  When I was in law school,  all I had to say was — exams.  People pretty much left me alone.   I would imagine a simple word like “dissertation” would send people backing slowly out of the room.   I used the “exams” excuse once.  Actually,  it was true,  and effective. I ate a convenience store turkey sandwich and studied at home alone.  Very relaxing, and productive.

3.  Fake or exaggerate your child’s illness.

Okay, this one seems creepy, but even if your kid is on the mend with barely a sniffle, you could rock the “I don’t want to expose him/her to everybody,” excuse.  Then you sit home, watch movies and cuddle.  Again, very relaxing.

4.  Pick a fight with your significant other.

You really have to want to skip the dinner to do this, but let’s face it, we probably all know how to do it.   Then, tell him/her to figure out what to say because “I’m not going.”   The offended significant other can consult this same list.  Bonus,  your significant other may bring you back a plate.

5.  For those expected to travel, say you just can’t afford it this year.

It’s tough out there.   You can’t afford a ticket, gas, car needs repair, whatever.   You do run the risk that someone will offer to pay your way.   If that happens, carry your butt to dinner, you’ve got good peeps.

Just Me With . . . a holiday opt-out plan. 

All I Want For Christmas Is My Kids

My Ex-Husband just consented to my having the kids over Christmas break.

We do not have holidays spelled out in the Custody Order, rather,  we are supposed to work it out, so this is a big deal.  I’ve always had the kids at Christmas since our separation, he’s always had them at Thanksgiving.   This is really an extension of what happened during our marriage.   We spent Thanksgiving with his family, and Christmas with mine.   That worked for us.   In fact,  when we were together I spent Easter and  all of the  barbecue holidays (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day) with his family.   I traded all celebrations throughout the year just to get Christmas.

Last Christmas  when I asked for the kids over Christmas break, he said fine but added that one of these years he’s going to want them at Christmas.  That scared me.  He meant it to scare me, I believe.   But then he and his wife (then girlfriend) went on a beach vacation together over the holidays.   He didn’t even spend it with his  family, something the kids noticed and openly wondered about.   “Why didn’t Daddy spend Christmas with his own family?” they asked.   (No comment.)   Last week I heard from the kids that my Ex-husband had already made Thanksgiving plans with the kids, his wife, and her extended family (again, not his family, something the kids are upset about, but again, no comment).   I hoped that this meant that he would honor our tradition of “letting” me having the kids at Christmas.    But one never knows.  There’s a new wife in town now.   Plus, my Ex can be mean.   When I had to speak to my Ex about Summer vacation plans he yelled at me for almost an hour about various unrelated crap before eventually saying, “Go on take them  for as long as you want.  I don’t care,  just let me know.”   Haven’t been feeling up for a verbal beat down like that again.

So today, when he informed me he’d be traveling for work and would miss  his visitations with the kids for the next couple of weeks, I  finally got the nerve to ask him about the holidays.   He was completely fine with it, not even a pause.   My guess is he had  already made plans with his wife anyway and/or assumed I’d take the kids regardless.   He assumes and makes plans.   I ask permission.  (Yeah, I know, I see it, I’m working on it, acknowledging his rights does not mean being a doormat, but this is a lifelong pattern of accommodation I’m dealing with  “My High School Self”. )    My Ex-Husband added that he had been planning  to tell me that  Christmas presents for the kids from him will be sparse  this year, his wife isn’t working and  he’s struggling.   (No comment.)   I’m just glad, hell, I’m freaking rejoicing in the fact  that now I can openly  discuss Christmas and that I didn’t first have to take a verbal beat down for the privilege.

Christmas with my family has a special meaning for me.   It’s not even particularly religious, and we’re not wealthy so it’s not  about the gifts.  It is, however,  usually the only time that my small but geographically  fractured family gets together.   My sisters went to college and moved hundreds of miles away from our home of origin and never moved back.   They rarely made it home for Thanksgiving, don’t always make a Summer visit, but have always made it home for Christmas, even after they married and had children of their own.   They, like me, often spent Thanksgiving, Easter and Spring Break  with their in-laws or their own homes but reserved Christmas for us.   It’s always been that way.  Perhaps it is because so many of my family members are involved in academia.   Teachers,  people who work for universities, and students  have off the week between Christmas and New Years Day and this is when they can travel and relax.  Even now, my oldest sister’s  grown children with professional careers make time and arrangements to travel cross-country  to be with their grandparents and the rest of the family at Christmas.     I know that one day someone won’t be able to make it;  I know that one year we will have lost someone.    But it is our family tradition to be together, and I look forward to it.  My kids look forward to it.    I’m just so thankful that today I know for sure  I  “have permission” to continue the tradition — to spend this Christmas with my kids, together with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and that my divorce  did not change that — this year.    What a relief.

Just Me With . . .  holiday plans.   Woo Hoo!!!!!!!

A Sad and Disturbing True Halloween Story

This happened years ago . . .

I don’t come from a large family, I only had three cousins in the area.   It was my Dad’s sister’s family:  two boys and a girl.  They were Army brats and moved a lot, but eventually settled on our street.  The girl was my age and we were inseparable growing up all the way through high school.  She would escape to my house to get away from her pesky older brothers.  I had my first kiss at the brothers’  party at their house.

Adulthood happens.   Bill, the oldest cousin, was now thirty-two years old.  He was married with three children: a four-year old girl, a three-year old girl and a nine month old baby boy.   His wife was a stay-at-home-mom.  I was also married, but no kids yet.

On October 31st  his wife was home getting the children dressed for Halloween. She was waiting for their Daddy to get home from work  and take the kids Trick Or Treating.

He never got there.

On his way home from work on Halloween night, he was struck head on by a drunk driver  .  .  .  and killed instantly.

His wife, wondering why he was late getting home,  had to receive the news while the kids were in costumes.  It was the most tragic of tragic — a young mother, children too little to understand, a senseless accident occasioned by stupidity.   On Halloween.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were just around the corner –but it would be just the first of many holiday seasons missing a Daddy, a husband, a son, a brother,  and there had been no chance to say goodbye.  It rocked our entire family.  It was devastatingly sad.

Funeral Procession by Ellis Wilson

The services were, of course, well attended.  The steering wheel had gone through my cousin’s chest and broken his jaw,  but his face was otherwise intact and they were able to have an open casket. There was a viewing , the funeral itself, the burial and the reception.

It’s difficult to describe how heartbreaking it all was.   There were tears from three generations, a pretty and petite  mother of three– it seemed like a slight breeze could blow her away, bouncing preschool girls, a cutie-pie fat and happy baby boy,  grieving parents, siblings, friends,  aunts and uncles, and yes . . . cousins.  It’s been years and years, but I still think of it, the horror of his senseless death.

When we arrived at the funeral reception, my then husband turned to me and said something I’ve never been able to  forget.

He said,

“I’m not going to do this all day.”

Dangerous Liaisons

Just Me With . . .  no words.

P.S.   This is backstory.   The accident happened years ago, but understandably I think about it every Halloween.   The drunk driver did some time, I don’t recall  how much.  It got him off the road, but it didn’t bring my cousin back.   My cousin’s wife grieved hard but recovered as much as a person can.     She received a settlement from the insurance and never hurt for money.  She eventually remarried a family friend and had one more child.  The children grew up well, the  whole family keeps their father’s memory alive.  That nine month old baby boy grew up to look a lot like the Dad he never knew.   The girls,  young women now, are beautiful, healthy and happy.  His parents  routinely visit the grave and leave fresh flowers on holidays.  I say all this because I don’t want it to appear like I’m using this horrible tragedy just for blog fodder about me.  As I said, it’s that time of year;  it’s on my mind.  And my husband’s statement to me at the funeral reception has haunted me for years . . . and it’s scary.