Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year

The new year approaches and the craziness of the holiday season will soon be behind us. Somewhere between buying smoked hams and mountains of electronics, we lost touch with the real meaning of Christmas. There were moments I found myself slipping in and out of insanity. During one particular holiday outing, I was standing in line to buy dog food when my debit card was declined. Like any working mother, I check my account daily and know the balance down to the last purchase at McDonald's. As the cashier announces over the loudspeaker that your card has been declined, you are acutely aware that the eight people in line behind you are sighing in disgust that you have no money. I moved out of line quickly to allow them to proceed with their purchases of tiny dog clothes and kitty toys. I called the bank only to find out that they had suspected fraud. Hmmmm.... I had just used the same card to purchase $700 in electronics, but they protected me from a possible fraudulent purchase of $8 in dog food! What! - I ask you! Somehow they are not making me feel better. After safely procuring my case of ALPO, I headed to the next store for more Christmas goodies. After loading the car with a 42 inch tv, a case of tasty dog treats and an assortment of gifts, I ran across the most amazing Christmas tree that played music while the lights beamed bright and faded in time to the music. It was hypnotizing. It was therapeutic. If my debit card worked... it was mine! And it was - There was already no room in the inn or my car and somehow I squeezed a 6ft tree into the vehicle and still properly closed all doors. Granted, the front seat passenger rode home with a smoked ham and a case of ALPO in their lap and a shiny Christmas star poking the top of their head. Ah - the joy of Christmas. Christmas day arrived and Santa was good to the children and we all ate until we could pop. People came and went and while it was wonderful to see everyone, it was exhausting. My living room was a maze of ribbons and boxes and tiny Nerf darts. There were plastic wire Barbie restraints strewn all over the floor. Do they really think it is necessary to secure every Barbie digit to the box? This is sending a twisted message to our daughters. All of this chaos never seems to bother my husband. He steps across the boxes, takes a dart to the head, and meanders out into the cold talking to himself. As the last visitor prepared to leave and I made my dash for my flannel PJs, my doorbell rang. Why would anyone come back, I thought to myself. But, it was that last visitor of the night who asked me to come out into the cold to hear something. This was truly the last thing I wanted to do. The flannel fat pants were almost in reach and now I had to go outside! But.... I'm glad I did. For in the dark of a cold Christmas night, there were two lovebirds perched in my tree singing to one another. They had escaped from the local flea market and had somehow found their way to my house where all the children and all the injured animals always come. They sang their Christmas song and I knew that all was right in my world. We were now ready to move on to the new year and all it brings with it.

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...