Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Annual Christmas Letter


          Every year it shows up under the guise of a Christmas card.  I open it to enjoy the card within and out it drops – the pompous Christmas letter. 
          You know the one – the letter that goes on and on about all the Wonderful, Amazing, Aren’t we cute, newsy letter about all the accomplishments the “family” accomplished in one human year. 
          The trips, the awards, the marriages, the babies, the usual whoop-de-does that are really wonderful accomplishments, but that we already heard about on Facebook, through phone calls, and the usual family grapevine. We already ooohed and aaahed over it.  We smiled.  We congratulated.  We paid homage. 
          Why must we be reminded of it all again?
          I scan the letter to make sure I didn’t miss something, but also, I look for typos.  I read between the lines.  I wonder if the uninformed know the real story behind the stories printed there in 12-point font, Times New Roman.
          What no mention of the DUI?  The six weeks’ scholastic probation?  The past-due notice on the new car?  What about the little skeleton in the closet no one talks about but everyone knows exists? 
          Now, that Christmas letter would be the one we would all look for each year.

          

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Twelve Days of Christmas


One day before Christmas, my raucous, blended family dropped by to see me.
Two bathrooms to clean
Three entrees to cook (turkey, pork loin, vegetarian)
Four mopey teenagers
Five employed, married, live-in-their-own-house, grownup children
Six rolls of Costco wrapping paper
Seven phone calls from funny-sounding people wanting my Visa pin number
Eight bottles of delicious, soothing on the nerves, red wine
Nine pairs of pajamas to buy for grandkids
Ten pounds gained on the bathroom scale
Eleven funny Santa hats waiting for little heads
And twelve months to recover my bank balance, goal weight, and sanity.


Feliz Christmas, y’all!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Last Pair of SweatPants on Earth


          For fifty years of my life, for six, sometimes seven days a week, I wore what my grandmother called “Sunday best.”  I dressed up daily, put on makeup, fixed and sprayed my hair.  I wore heels.  And then I retired.
          Except for church on Sunday, I no longer needed to put on makeup daily.  I stopped fixing my hair and only ran my fingers through my short do.  I wore flip flops and house shoes, but every three or four days, I ran out of things to wear. I needed more play clothes in my rotation.
          Before I went shopping, I assessed what I had available and found a box of hand-me-downs my sons had given me when they moved away. It was full of extra-large tee-shirts and a stack of men’s, large, gray sweatpants.
          Up to then, I had ignored my weight gain; my dress slacks cut into my middle and I sometimes wore them without buttoning or hooking the waist.  I bought the larger dresses that take up the back half of the dress rack in stores.
          The moment I tried on my first sweat pant, they became my wardrobe staple. I wore them everywhere, every time, and I even considered pairing them with a nice top and knee high boots and wear them to church.
          By the second year, they started to show wear and I considered buying more, but it was time to face the truth.  I needed to work off the weight.  I joined a gym and replaced the sweat pants with yoga pants.  Yoga pants are what the Walmart Mom wears to Target. I wanted to recover some of my former dignity and worked on my weight and health.  I upped the ratio of yoga pants to sweat pants, and I did wear them to church on several occasions.  

          This year I lost over 30 lbs and downed my pant size to three times smaller than before. It was time to go through my wardrobe and give away a few items before I bought more. I kept a few good pairs of yoga pants, but there at the bottom of the drawer was a pair of sweat pants.  I measured them against my body. They fit, but then I walked over to the donation bag and stuffed them in among the rest of the clothes I no longer wanted.
         I am considering leggings next.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Caldo


          Every Saturday, regardless the season, my father made caldo de res, beef soup, for our lunch. He would quarter a whole cabbage, halve corn on the cob, and add potatoes and carrots to the beef soup bone broth.  He sometimes, but very rarely, made caldo de pollo for he preferred the heartiness of beef over the lightness of chicken.
          We groaned over his caldo de res, wanting hamburgers or pizza, anything but watery soup, but he ignored us.  He recounted an old child’s tale about a mean stepmother who served the broth to her stepchildren and gave the drained meat and vegetables to her own.  She wondered why her hated hijastros looked healthy and robust and her querido bebes grew listless and pale.
          We didn’t care that the broth was healthier than the other caldo ingredients, we wanted to sink our teeth into food and not slurp our way to the bottom of the bowl.
          It has been almost half a century since the days of my father’s Saturday afternoon caldo, but I can still taste it, especially when I make my own for HoneyBunch.  I rarely make caldo de res; I had my fill of that as a child, but I enjoy dressing up a can of canned by adding extra broth, canned tomatoes, and spices like oregano, basil, or cilantro. I make a killer green pea soup and a tasty broccoli cheddar.  There is a “skinny soup” I hijacked out of a Weight Watcher cookbook that I adjusted to my own taste.

          Every time I take my first slurp, I remember my dad and the story of the mean stepmother, and I can feel its magic working its way down my tummy and into my bones, especially my soul.