HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK

Jack is my sister Patti’s husband.  They were married November of 1979 so Jack has been a member of our family a long time.  One of our family jokes is that Mom and Dad like Jack better than any of us.  HE is their favorite.  Jack is more than an in-law; he really is part of our family.  He is the only person I allow to call me Mary.  I know it is a loving name to him and I accept it and do not complain or correct.  Trust me though; no one else is permitted to do it.  He is special.

I would bet that since Jack’s birthday is December 22nd he grew up with the Christmas/birthday combo gifts all the time.  I have never heard him complain about it and I have to admit if it were me, I would be whining like a big baby.  That is why I want this blog to be one that pleases him.  He is the only “in-law” I will be blogging and I really want to do justice to the man I know.  

I don’t know if Jack ever dreamed of being a father but he has certainly been a good one.  I don’t know two parents who were more involved in their children’s lives than Jack & Patti.  They split duties going to soccer games and track meets and everything in-between.  And again, I never heard complaints. I believe that he consistently does the right thing.  He sets a good example for all of us .  No one is always positive but Jack doesn’t show his down side very often.  He just puts one foot in front of the other and moves forward.  I love that about him.  I hear and see his positive attitude in his words and deeds.  I know him to be a very honorable man.  I cannot say that about very many people.

He does enjoy the finer things in life but he is not wasteful.  He will buy one really good thing and keep it forever.  The only thing I have consistently heard him ask for over the years is a BMW and to date, he has never bought one for himself.  He says it as a joke but I hope someday he treats himself because it is something he does deserve. 

Jack’s an avid golfer and plays most weekends.  How good a golfer he is depends on who you ask and how bad he beat them.

When you write about someone, you realize how little you really know about them.  It is hard to do justice to the man Jack has become over the years.  I know him to be kind, thoughtful, a terrific father, a good husband, honest, funny and loving.  I am honored to have Jack as my brother-in-law but even more honored to have him as my friend.

Happy Birthday Jack!

HOLIDAY COOKIES

My holiday preparations are different this year.  I decided to shake things up and am so glad that I did. 

Usually I put up our Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend.  Last year I wanted to put the tree on the patio but decided to go with tradition and it went in the same spot it always goes.  The other decorations go in the same spot each year.  I have several Christmas Yankee Candle holders and I place each in specific spaces, and I love them. Do all these things go in the same place each year because that is the best space for them or because I am used to that “look.”

As I decorate the tree, I re-live the memories over and over and they are lovely memories.  I have ornaments that Tom’s mother made us during our marriage that Tom graciously let me keep.  Other ornaments are beautiful memories of life in Germany.  I have some that my sister Barb handmade in 1975.  There are ornaments that were gifts and some I bought myself for one reason or another.  I am sure most of you have similar experiences as you dress your home for the holidays.

This year I just didn’t feel like being traditional.  I decided not to decorate the house at all.  It isn’t that I don’t have the Christmas spirit, I do!  I just felt like I was going through the motions instead of living, feeling, enjoying the season.  I decided I wanted to do something different that would actually have meaning to me.

What happened started out innocent enough.   My sister Patti and I decided to spend a Saturday making cookies together.  We had never done this before but thought it might be fun.  Mom didn’t want to join us and my other sister Barb had to work so it was just Patti and I. 

Both of us went through all of our recipe books, boxes and drawers to find our favorites to share.  We called back and forth asking if we wanted to try this or that recipe, deciding what to make was fun.  I wanted to try to make “Sponge Candy” which is a recipe my Aunt Jean gave me.  It usually cannot be made in Florida, too much heat and humidity.  But we were game to try.  (The sponge candy did not turn out.  I think it must have been too warm.)

We made arrangements to start around noon at Patti’s house.  After the initial getting used to each other’s “method” of cooking, I relaxed and really enjoyed the day.  I made chocolate chip and Oatmeal Raisin, Patti made what we called refrigerator cookies and chocolate crinkles.  The idea was to share the dough with each other and it would not be so much work. 

We decided to give the “dough” as gifts instead of actually baking the cookies.  That way no one would be stuck with a bunch of cookies that might go to waste and they can control how many they cook at a time.  We made the dough into balls and froze them, packaged them in freezer bags with the baking instructions written on the bags.

After our day together I realized how much I loved to make cookies.  I have not done it in years.  All of a sudden, I was off and running.  I have not stopped making cookies.  I am not only making dough and freezing it, but I am also making and baking cookies I have never before  attempted.  I made Gingerbread Men, and Toffee bars.   I have never been able to make a decent Peanut Butter cookie and Patti gave me a few tips and they were great!  I am sharing them with others and it has become almost magical for me.  I am having a ball.  Some people I give dough and it has been received amazingly well.  People don’t think I am nuts, they love the idea.  I baked for some senior friends and they were thrilled. 

Every day I am more and more excited to try a new recipe.  John is now telling me to stop but I am obsessed with it.  I know it is all short lived, the season will be over and all the dough in the freezer will be shared or baked.  I will be burned out because that is who I am.  I think I am obsessive compulsive with A.D.D.  I go like crazy, lose interest and move on. 

Maybe I will try breads next … anyone have a good recipe for Pumpernickel?

WHY I HATE ROMANTIC COMEDIES

John and I went to the movie last weekend and saw a romantic comedy.  I am pretty lucky because John LOVES movies.  He watches all kinds.  If I ask to go see something it is very rare that he isn’t interested.  A lot of my girlfriends complain that their guy won’t go see “Chick Flicks” with them.  Normally they get a group together and do a girls night out and everyone is sort of happy.

It doesn’t matter which movie we saw, they are all pretty much the same.  Boy meets girl, girl rejects boy, things heat up, things cool off, it heats up again and they fool around a lot.  In the end the couple either get together, break up forever or someone dies.  I really hate romantic comedies and cannot for the life of me remember why I wanted to go in the first place.

John and I go through the roller coaster of emotions you get while watching these movies.  You laugh, you relate, you glare at your spouse because he/she doesn’t get it; or DOES get it.  In this particular movie, it had a sweet ending, a least no one died – yet.  The lights come up and I am in that warm emotional space, you know the one where you look over at your sweetie and just know he is going to say something really profound and loving?  And he says something stupid instead.  The moment is broken forever.  He is a jerk; the movie stunk and we go home and watch basketball.  Life goes on.

I do have a few Chick Flicks that are favorites, like “The Bridges of Madison County”.  I read the book first and about the half way point started heaving and sobbing.   Tom, my spouse at the time, asked if I was enjoying my book.  I said yes as tears streamed down my face.  I didn’t like the movie as much as the book but cried just the same.  People argue with me about the outcome all the time saying she should have left.  I am positive staying was the right decision.  All that they had was a moment in time.  Real life would have destroyed it anyway.  I am not sure Bridges would qualify as a romantic comedy but it is the same formula. “ Sleepless in Seattle”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “There’s Something About Mary” are all sweet funny movies.  They are absolutely not the kind of life I live or really even want to live.  Maybe I am too cynical.

To me, the real romantic comedy is the life I live every day.  Working together to make our life happy is comedy enough for me.  There isn’t much romance in day to day life and when we try to create it we laugh like crazy.  I light a candle and John blows it out so a fire doesn’t start.  He puts on some music and instead of a sweet cozy song, Great Balls of Fire plays.  If we snuggle watching TV, Rosie starts loudly snoring or worse, passes gas.  You can just forget about that romantic dinner, when I try to cook nothing good ever happens!

I have come to learn that comedy is what makes the romance for me.  All that other stuff is short lived.  Some of you might have that sweet gushy relationship full of romance and if you do I am genuinely happy for you!  I’m just saying that maybe more relationships would last if we stopped dreaming about what we don’t have and start enjoying the real life we have in front of us. 

Just a thought…